Background: Postprandial elevation of triglycerides impairs endothelial function and contributes to the development of atherosclerosis. We investigated the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on postprandial endothelial function and lipid profiles.
Methods: Healthy volunteers  were given supplementation at 4g/day omega-3 fatty acids (or were not treated) for 4 weeks in a randomised crossover study. Postprandial levels of various lipids were monitored and endothelial function assessed by brachial artery flow-mediated dilation during fasting and after a standard cookie test.
Results: Omega-3 fatty acids reduced postprandial endothelial dysfunction compared with the control diet (flow-mediated dilation at 4h=-0.5±1.2 vs. -2.0±1.6%, P=0.03). Postprandial levels of triglycerides, apolipoprotein B-48, and remnant lipoprotein-cholesterol increased in untreated subjects, peaked at 2-4h, and returned to baseline at 8h, whereas low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels did not change. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids significantly suppressed postprandial elevation of triglycerides (incremental area under the curve=220±209 vs. 374±216mg/h/dL, P=0.04) and remnant lipoprotein-cholesterol (incremental area under the curve=21.7±13.8 vs. 13.3±12.9mg/h/dL, P=0.04). Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids significantly suppressed the increase in triglyceride content in chylomicrons as well as in very-low-density lipoproteins from baseline to 4h after the cookie test.
Conclusion: Omega-3 fatty acids significantly decreased postprandial triglyceride elevation and postprandial endothelial dysfunction, suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids may have vascular protective effects in postprandial state.
Keywords: Endothelial dysfunction; Omega-3 fatty acid; Triglyceride.
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