The effect of dietary n-3 fatty acids on serum concentrations of C-reactive protein: a dose-response study

Br J Nutr. 2003 Apr;89(4):517-22. doi: 10.1079/BJN2002815.


C-reactive protein (CRP) is a sensitive marker for low-grade inflammation. Long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have anti-inflammatory effects. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effect on serum levels of CRP of n-3 PUFA at two different doses. We also investigated correlations between CRP and the cellular contents of PUFA. Sixty healthy volunteers (twenty-five women and thirty-five men) were randomly assigned to three treatment groups in a double-blind design. The subjects received a supplement of either 6.6 g n-3 PUFA/d, 2.0 g n-3 PUFA/d or placebo (olive oil) for 12 weeks. CRP was measured using a highly sensitive assay. The median serum CRP concentration was 0.78 mg/l. No significant correlations were found between CRP and the content of n-3 PUFA in granulocytes or platelets. Subjects receiving n-3 PUFA had a significant (P<0.01) increase in the cellular contents of 20 : 5n-3, 22 : 5n-3 and 22 : 6n-3, with the largest increase occurring in the group receiving 6.6 g PUFA/d. A significant (P<0.01) decrease in cellular content of 18 : 2n-6 and 20 : 4n-6 was observed simultaneously. Serum CRP concentrations, however, were unaffected by the PUFA-containing supplements. The present study shows that dietary supplementation with PUFA-containing supplements has no effect on serum concentrations of CRP, measured with a highly sensitive assay, in healthy subjects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Time Factors


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • C-Reactive Protein