Effects of Ω-3 fatty acids on endothelial function, arterial wall properties, inflammatory and fibrinolytic status in smokers: a cross over study

Int J Cardiol. 2013 Jun 20;166(2):340-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2011.10.081. Epub 2011 Nov 17.


Background: Smoking is associated with endothelial dysfunction and arterial stiffness. Supplementation of Ω-3 PUFAs is associated with better prognosis. Aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of Ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) supplementation on smoking-induced impairment of arterial function.

Methods: We studied the effect of a 12 weeks oral treatment with 2gr/day of Ω-3 PUFAs in 20 healthy smokers on three occasions (day 0:baseline, day 28 and day 84). The study was carried out on two separate arms (Ω-3 fatty acids and placebo), according to a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over design. Measurements were carried out before (pSm), immediately and 20min after cigarette smoking. Endothelial function was evaluated by flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery. Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) was measured as an index of aortic stiffness and augmentation index (AIx) as a measure of arterial wave reflections. Circulating levels of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) were measured.

Results: Compared with placebo, Ω-3 PUFAs treatment resulted in a significant improvement in pSm values of FMD (p<0.05), AIx (p<0.001) and PWV (p<0.01). Although, acute cigarette smoking decreased FMD and caused an increase in AIx and PWV, Ω-3 PUFAs treatment blunted the acute smoking-induced impairment of FMD (p<0.001), AIx (p<0.05) and PWV (p<0.05) and significantly decreased levels of TNFα (p<0.05) and IL-6 (p=0.01) and increased levels of PAI-1 (p=0.05).

Conclusions: Ω-3 PUFAs improved endothelial function and the elastic properties of the arterial tree in healthy smokers, with a parallel anti-inflammatory effect.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Arteries / drug effects*
  • Arteries / physiology
  • Blood Flow Velocity / drug effects
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Fibrinolysis / drug effects*
  • Fibrinolysis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Smoking / drug therapy*
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasodilation / drug effects*
  • Vasodilation / physiology


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3