Inhibition of atherosclerosis by cod-liver oil in a hyperlipidemic swine model

N Engl J Med. 1986 Oct 2;315(14):841-6. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198610023151401.


We studied the effect of cod-liver oil on the development and progression of coronary artery disease in swine subjected to coronary balloon abrasion and fed an atherogenic diet for eight months. Sections from serial 3-mm segments of the coronary arteries were analyzed morphometrically in 7 pigs given a cod-liver-oil supplement and 11 control animals not given the supplement. Significantly less disease was seen in the sections from the animals fed cod-liver oil. The mean lesion area per vessel, mean luminal encroachment per vessel, and mean maximal luminal encroachment per vessel were reduced in animals fed cod-liver oil, as compared with controls, (P = 0.05, P = 0.016, and P = 0.011, respectively). Both groups of animals had severe hyperlipidemia throughout the study. Differences in the extent of coronary atherosclerosis were not related to differences in plasma lipid levels. Platelet arachidonate was markedly reduced, platelet eicosapentaenoic acid was increased, and serum thromboxane was decreased in the oil-fed group as compared with the control group. We conclude that in our animal mode, dietary cod-liver oil retarded the development of coronary artery disease, possibly through changes in prostaglandin metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids / blood
  • Blood Platelets / analysis
  • Cod Liver Oil / therapeutic use*
  • Coronary Disease / pathology
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control*
  • Coronary Vessels / pathology
  • Diet, Atherogenic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fish Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Hyperlipidemias / complications*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Swine
  • Thromboxane B2 / blood


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Fish Oils
  • Lipids
  • Thromboxane B2
  • Cod Liver Oil