Soluble adhesion molecules in healthy subjects: a dose-response study using n-3 fatty acids

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2004 Aug;14(4):180-5. doi: 10.1016/s0939-4753(04)80002-4.


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.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arteriosclerosis / prevention & control*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Granulocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / blood*
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / drug effects
  • Male
  • P-Selectin / blood*
  • P-Selectin / drug effects
  • Sex Factors
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / blood*
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / drug effects


  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • P-Selectin
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids