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August 1989

n-3 Fatty Acids and Cellular Aspects of Atherosclerosis

Author Affiliations

Departments of Medicine and Neurology; Department of Medicine The Medical Center of Central Massachusetts-Memorial University of Massachusetts Medical School 119 Belmont St Worcester, MA 01605; Department of Preventive Medicine Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02115

Arch Intern Med. 1989;149(8):1726-1728. doi:10.1001/archinte.1989.00390080012003

M ounting interest has been generated over the past decade concerning the potential beneficial effects of n-3 fatty acids on atherosclerosis and atherothrombotic disorders. Substantial quantities of epidemiological and laboratory data have accumulated regarding n-3 fatty acids and atherosclerosis.1,2 The purpose of this review is to summarize recent studies that have sought to elucidate the biochemical and cellular effects by which n-3 fatty acids might favorably affect atherogenesis. We will begin with a very brief review of the clinical and epidemiological data.

EPIDEMIOLOGICAL, CLINICAL, AND EXPERIMENTAL OBSERVATIONS  Epidemiological studies of Greenland and Alaskan Eskimos have demonstrated a substantially reduced mortality rate of ischemic heart disease in these populations compared with European and North American cohorts.3,4 Analysis of the Eskimo diet revealed differences from typical Western diets, especially in the fatty acid content, which contained substantial quantities of n-3 fatty acids derived from marine sources.5 Similar studies in