The effects of dietary fatty acid supplementation on endothelial function and vascular tone in healthy subjects

Faisel Khan, Khaild Elherika, Caroline Bolton-Smith, Rebecca Barr, Alexander Hill, Inez Murrie, Jill J. F. Belch

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    103 Citations (Scopus)


    OBJECTIVE: Evaluation of the effects of supplementation of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids on vascular tone and endothelial function in healthy men and women aged 40 to 65 years. METHODS: In a double-blind, randomised, placebo controlled study, 173 healthy volunteers took one of six oil supplements for 8 months. Supplements were placebo, oleic acid rich sunflower oil, evening primrose oil, soya bean oil, tuna fish oil, and tuna/evening primrose oil mix. Endothelium-dependent and independent vascular responses were measured in the forearm skin using laser Doppler imaging following iontophoretic applications of acetylcholine and sodium nitroprusside, respectively. RESULTS: Acetylcholine, but not sodium nitroprusside responses were significantly improved after tuna oil supplementation (P=0.02). Additionally, there were significant positive correlations between acetylcholine responses and n-3 fatty acid levels in the plasma and erythrocyte membrane phospholipids after tuna oil supplementation. No significant changes in vascular response were seen after supplementation with any of the other oils. CONCLUSIONS: Fish oil supplementation has a beneficial effect on endothelial function, even in normal healthy subjects. Modification of the diet by an increase of 6% in eicosapentaenoic acid and 27% in docosahexaenoic acid (equivalent to eating oily fish 2-3 times/week) might have significant beneficial effects on cardiovascular function and health.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)955-962
    Number of pages8
    JournalCardiovascular Research
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003


    • Acetylcholine
    • Endothelial function
    • Microcirculation
    • Nitric oxide
    • Vasoconstriction/dilation


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