Dietary intervention with oil rich fish reduces platelet-monocyte aggregation in man

Atherosclerosis. 2008 Mar;197(1):290-6. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2007.04.047. Epub 2007 Jun 18.


Background: Dietary intake of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular events. The mechanisms for this are uncertain and previous studies investigating effects on platelet function have produced inconsistent results. Platelet-monocyte aggregation is a sensitive marker of platelet activation and may contribute to the initiation and progression of atherothrombosis. This study assessed the effect of dietary intervention with oily fish on platelet-monocyte aggregation in healthy subjects.

Methods: Fourteen subjects had their diet supplemented with 500 g of oil-rich fish per week for 4 weeks. A control group of 14 subjects received no dietary intervention over a 4-week period. Platelet-monocyte aggregates were assessed with flow cytometry.

Results: Dietary intervention with fish led to an increase in omega-3 fatty acids in plasma phospholipids (14.2+/-3.4% versus 5.8+/-1.3%, P<0.001). In contrast to the control group, platelet-monocyte aggregates were reduced by 35% following dietary intervention with oily fish (16.0+/-9.0% versus 24.8+/-10.9%, P<0.01), and returned to basal levels 4 weeks after discontinuation of supplementation. There was an inverse correlation between platelet-monocyte aggregation and plasma omega-3 fatty acid concentrations (r=-0.421, P=0.006). There were no changes in the plasma markers of platelet activation, soluble P-selectin or soluble CD40 ligand.

Conclusions: We have demonstrated, for the first time, that dietary intervention with oil-rich fish reduces platelet-monocyte aggregation in man. Our results suggest that reduced platelet activation provides a potential mechanism through which fish oils confer their cardiovascular preventative benefits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control*
  • Blood Platelets / cytology
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects*
  • CD40 Ligand / blood
  • Cell Communication / drug effects
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • P-Selectin / blood
  • Phospholipids / blood
  • Platelet Aggregation / drug effects


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • P-Selectin
  • Phospholipids
  • CD40 Ligand