Fish oil, but not flaxseed oil, decreases inflammation and prevents pressure overload-induced cardiac dysfunction

Cardiovasc Res. 2009 Feb 1;81(2):319-27. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvn310. Epub 2008 Nov 17.


Aims: Clinical studies suggest that intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 PUFA) may lower the incidence of heart failure. Dietary supplementation with omega-3 PUFA exerts metabolic and anti-inflammatory effects that could prevent left ventricle (LV) pathology; however, it is unclear whether these effects occur at clinically relevant doses and whether there are differences between omega-3 PUFA from fish [eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] and vegetable sources [alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)].

Methods and results: We assessed the development of LV remodelling and pathology in rats subjected to aortic banding treated with omega-3 PUFA over a dose range that spanned the intake of humans taking omega-3 PUFA supplements. Rats were fed a standard food or diets supplemented with EPA+DHA or ALA at 0.7, 2.3, or 7% of energy intake. Without supplementation, aortic banding increased LV mass and end-systolic and -diastolic volumes. ALA supplementation had little effect on LV remodelling and dysfunction. In contrast, EPA+DHA dose-dependently increased EPA and DHA, decreased arachidonic acid in cardiac membrane phospholipids, and prevented the increase in LV end-diastolic and -systolic volumes. EPA+DHA resulted in a dose-dependent increase in the anti-inflammatory adipokine adiponectin, and there was a strong correlation between the prevention of LV chamber enlargement and plasma levels of adiponectin (r = -0.78). Supplementation with EPA+DHA had anti-aggregatory and anti-inflammatory effects as evidenced by decreases in urinary thromboxane B(2) and serum tumour necrosis factor-alpha.

Conclusion: Dietary supplementation with omega-3 PUFA derived from fish, but not from vegetable sources, increased plasma adiponectin, suppressed inflammation, and prevented cardiac remodelling and dysfunction under pressure overload conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenylate Kinase / metabolism
  • Adiponectin / blood
  • Animals
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor / genetics
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / prevention & control
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Linseed Oil / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Myocardial Contraction / drug effects
  • Myosin Heavy Chains / genetics
  • Phospholipids / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Thromboxane B2 / urine
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood
  • Ventricular Function, Left / drug effects
  • Ventricular Remodeling / drug effects*


  • Adiponectin
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Phospholipids
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Thromboxane B2
  • Linseed Oil
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor
  • Adenylate Kinase
  • Myosin Heavy Chains