Anti-inflammatory Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation on Atherosclerotic Plaques in Patients

Presenter: Dr. Phillip Calder
Institution: University of Southampton, United Kingdom

Anti-inflammatory Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation on Atherosclerotic Plaques in Patients

Dr. Phillip Calder reported yesterday afternoon at the (International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids & Lipids) ISSFAL Congress in Cairns, Australia, on a recent clinical trial where in supplementary fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids was given to patients for a median time of 3 weeks (up to 7 weeks) prior to surgical removal of their advanced carotid atherosclerotic plaques. Inflammatory activities associated with such plaques are known to lead to their instability, tendency to rupture,and serious cardiovascular outcomes.

In this trial, 60 patients in each group were supplemented daily with a placebo (olive oil) or 2 grams/day of omega-3 fatty acids as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) plus EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Examinations of the removed plaques and analyses showed a marked accumulation of DHA/EPA fatty acids in the omega-3 patient group. Relative to the placebo (control) group, the plaques enriched in more omega-3 fatty acids showed significantly lessened inflammation and histology scores. Inflammatory factors including foam cells, macrophages, T-cells, and pro-inflammatory biochemical mediators including matrix metalloproteinases and intercellular adhesion molecule were significantly lower in the omega-3 group.

Dr. Calder indicated that these decreased inflammatory responses seen in the plaques of patients receiving DHA/EPA supplementation may play a role in decreasing cardiovascular events associated with plaque instability.

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