Submitted to: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/21/2011
Publication Date: 2/28/2012
Citation: Kelley, D.S., Adkins, Y.C. 2012. Similarities and differences between the effects of EPA and DHA on markers of atherosclerosis in human subjects. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 10.1017/S0029665112000080.
Technical Abstract: Initial results from epidemiological studies suggested that long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC n-3 PUFA) from fish oils (FO) reduced the incidence of CVD; those results have been confirmed in interventional studies. Dietary intervention with long chain n-3 PUFA decreased fasting and postprandial triglycerides, number of remnant like chylomicron cholesterol (RLP-C), large VLDL, and total and small dense LDL particles. It increased the mean size of LDL particles by increasing the number of large LDL particles, and decreasing those of the small dense LDL particles. With some exceptions, n-3 PUFA decreased blood pressure and heart rate, flow mediated dilation (FMD), and plasma concentrations of inflammatory markers (CRP, inflammatory eciosanoids and cytokines). N-3 PUFA also decreased circulating adhesion molecules, and intima media thickness (IMT) in some but not other studies. IMT results varied with the sex and the artery being examined. EPA effects on FMD are believed to be endothelial cell dependent while those of DHA are considered to be endothelial cell independent. Individually, both EPA and DHA decreased triglycerides and inflammatory markers, but only DHA decreased heart rate, blood pressure, and the number of small dense LDL particles. Dose and duration of the n-3 PUFA used, ratio between EPA and DHA, and the health status of the subjects contributed to the inconsistencies between published reports. Future studies are needed to determine the optimal doses of EPA and DHA individually, their synergistic, additive or antagonistic effects, and to understand the underlying mechanisms. Regardless of some of the inconsistencies, n-3 PUFA decreased several risk factors for atherosclerosis without any serious AE.