Differential effects of EPA versus DHA on postprandial vascular function and the plasma oxylipin profile in men

J Lipid Res. 2016 Sep;57(9):1720-7. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M067801. Epub 2016 May 11.


Our objective was to investigate the impact of EPA versus DHA on arterial stiffness and reactivity and underlying mechanisms (with a focus on plasma oxylipins) in the postprandial state. In a three-arm crossover acute test meal trial, men (n = 26, 35-55 years) at increased CVD risk received a high-fat (42.4 g) test meal providing 4.16 g of EPA or DHA or control oil in random order. At 0 h and 4 h, blood samples were collected to quantify plasma fatty acids, long chain n-3 PUFA-derived oxylipins, nitrite and hydrogen sulfide, and serum lipids and glucose. Vascular function was assessed using blood pressure, reactive hyperemia index, pulse wave velocity, and augmentation index (AIx). The DHA-rich oil significantly reduced AIx by 13% (P = 0.047) with the decrease following EPA-rich oil intervention not reaching statistical significance. Both interventions increased EPA- and DHA-derived oxylipins in the acute postprandial state, with an (1.3-fold) increase in 19,20-dihydroxydocosapentaenoic acid evident after DHA intervention (P < 0.001). In conclusion, a single dose of DHA significantly improved postprandial arterial stiffness as assessed by AIx, which if sustained would be associated with a significant decrease in CVD risk. The observed increases in oxylipins provide a mechanistic insight into the AIx effect.

Keywords: augmentation index; blood pressure; docosahexaenoic acid; eicosapentaenoic acid; fish oil; hydrogen sulfide; lipidomics; nitric oxide; nutrition; omega-3 fatty acids; pulse wave velocity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / blood
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitrites / blood
  • Oxylipins / blood*
  • Postprandial Period
  • Pulse Wave Analysis
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Vascular Stiffness / drug effects*


  • 19,20-dihydroxydocosapentaenoic acid
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Nitrites
  • Oxylipins
  • Triglycerides
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • Hydrogen Sulfide