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August 1989

Effects of Modest Doses of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Lipids and Lipoproteins in Hypertriglyceridemic Subjects: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pharmacy, University Hospital, University of Cincinnati (Dr Deck) and Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine (Dr Radack), Ohio.

Arch Intern Med. 1989;149(8):1857-1862. doi:10.1001/archinte.1989.00390080109024

• Unlike the well-established hypotriglyceridemic effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, the influence of more clinically tolerable doses on lipoproteins and apolipoproteins is less well characterized. Therefore, we compared the relative effects of modest doses of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation with a corn oil control on lipids, lipoproteins, and apolipoproteins in a randomized, double-blind controlled crossover study. Eight hypertriglyceridemic subjects ingested 4.6 g/d of omega-3 fatty acids or 5.4 g/d of linoleic acid (supplied as corn oil) for 8 weeks, then crossed over to the alternative encapsulated oil for another 8 weeks, following an interposed 4-week wash-out period. Compared with the corn oil control, fish oil supplementation caused a significant reduction in triglyceride levels by a mean of 2.21 mmol/L and increased the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol by a mean of 0.13 mmol/L, associated with a significant rise in the high-density lipoprotein 3 subfraction. Furthermore, there was a significant increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) apolipoprotein B levels by a mean of 0.246 g/L. Compared with corn oil, no statistically significant change for LDL cholesterol or other apolipoprotein levels occurred, although LDL cholesterol showed a mild elevation. These data suggest that unlike large doses of omega-3 fatty acids, the hypotriglyceridemic effect of modest amounts of encapsulated fish oil supplementation is unaccompanied by favorable changes in LDL cholesterol or LDL apolipoprotein B levels; the potential therapeutic usefulness of modest doses of dietary fish oil for the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia, therefore, may be limited.

(Arch Intern Med. 1989;149:1857-1862)

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