Effects of dietary supplementation with marine lipid concentrate on the plasma lipoprotein composition of hypercholesterolemic patients

Atherosclerosis. 1989 Oct;79(2-3):157-66. doi: 10.1016/0021-9150(89)90120-2.


Although the triglyceride-lowering actions of n-3 fatty acids of marine lipids are now well-recognized, their effects on plasma lipoproteins have not been studied systematically in patients with hypercholesterolemia. To address this question, we supplemented the Phase 1 American Heart Association diets of 14 hypercholesterolemic ambulatory outpatients with a commercially available preparation of marine lipid concentrate (SuperEPA) containing 7.5 g n-3 fatty acids per day and studied their plasma lipids and lipoproteins before and after 30 days of treatment. Both plasma triglyceride and cholesterol levels fell uniformly in all patients while the mean VLDL- and LDL-cholesterol decreased by 58% (P less than 0.005) and 13% (P less than 0.025) respectively. The decrease in whole plasma cholesterol was significantly correlated with the fall in LDL-cholesterol (r = 0.85, P less than 0.01), and not VLDL-cholesterol (r = 0.39, NS). Among the other potentially beneficial actions observed was an increase in HDL2 in all patients (mean increment 41%, P less than 0.005), and an increase in the HDL2/HDL3 ratio (+46%, P less than 0.001) and decreases in the LDL/HDL ratio (-14%, P less than 0.005) and in the unesterified cholesterol/lecithin ratio (-17%; P less than 0.001) in plasma. The increase in the unesterified cholesterol/esterified cholesterol ratio in VLDL and HDL3 suggested that marine lipid therapy resulted in a reduction in the size of lipoprotein particles in these fractions. Since these changes may reduce cardiovascular risk, these findings suggest that marine lipids may prove useful in the treatment of certain patients with hypercholesterolemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Fish Oils / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / blood
  • Hypercholesterolemia / diet therapy*
  • Lipoproteins / blood*
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Fish Oils
  • Lipoproteins
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Triglycerides