Dietary intervention with [omega-3] oil rich fish reduces platelet-monocyte aggregation in man

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[Note: blood platelet aggregation is associated with buildup of plaque on the inside of blood vessels (atherosclerosis).]

Journal: Atherosclerosis. 2007 Jun 16; [E-publication ahead of print]

Authors and affiliation: Din JN, Harding SA, Valerio CJ, Sarma J, Lyall K, Riemersma RA, Newby DE, Flapan AD. Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

PMID: 17575985

Background: Dietary intake of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular events. The mechanisms for this are uncertain and previous studies investigating effects on platelet function have produced inconsistent results. Platelet-monocyte aggregation is a sensitive marker of platelet activation and may contribute to the initiation and progression of atherothrombosis. This study assessed the effect of dietary intervention with oily fish on platelet-monocyte aggregation in healthy subjects.

Methods: Fourteen subjects had their diet supplemented with 500g of oil-rich fish per week for 4 weeks. A control group of 14 subjects received no dietary intervention over a 4-week period. Platelet-monocyte aggregates were assessed with flow cytometry.

Results: Dietary intervention with fish led to an increase in omega-3 fatty acids in plasma phospholipids (14.2+/-3.4% versus 5.8+/-1.3%, P<0.001). In contrast to the control group, platelet-monocyte aggregates were reduced by 35% following dietary intervention with oily fish (16.0+/-9.0% versus 24.8+/-10.9%, P<0.01), and returned to basal levels 4 weeks after discontinuation of supplementation. There was an inverse correlation between platelet-monocyte aggregation and plasma omega-3 fatty acid concentrations (r=-0.421, P=0.006). There were no changes in the plasma markers of platelet activation, soluble P-selectin or soluble CD40 ligand.

Conclusion: We have demonstrated, for the first time, that dietary intervention with oil-rich fish reduces platelet-monocyte aggregation in man. Our results suggest that reduced platelet activation provides a potential mechanism through which fish oils confer their cardiovascular preventative benefits.

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