Background and aim: Long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) may protect against atherosclerotic disease, and serum levels of soluble cellular adhesion molecules (sCAMs) possibly reflect the inflammatory process underlying atherosclerosis. We studied the effect of n-3 PUFA dietary supplementation on the serum levels of sP-selectin, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) and soluble vascular adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1), and the correlation between sCAMs and the fatty acid composition of granulocyte membranes.
Methods and results: Sixty healthy volunteers were randomly assigned to receive a daily supplement of n-3 PUFA 6.6 g, n-3 PUFA 2.0 g, or olive oil for 12 weeks in a double blind design. A significant negative correlation was found between serum sICAM-1 levels and the DHA content of granulocyte membranes at entry. After supplementation with 6.6 g of n-3 PUFA, there was a significant decrease only in sP-selectin, which a gender subanalysis showed to be more marked in men. Among the women, there was a significant decrease in sICAM-1 in the PUFA 2.0 g group and a significant increase in sVCAM-1 in the PUFA 6.6 g group.
Conclusions: The results indicate that high-dose supplementation with n-3 PUFA decreases sP-selectin levels in healthy subjects, thus suggesting a decrease in platelet reactivity or endothelial activation. However, the effect of n-3 PUFA on sCAMs is complex and may depend on gender and n-3 PUFA dose.