Fish oil, atherogenesis, and thrombogenesis

D. N. Kim, A. Eastman, J. E. Baker, A. Mastrangelo, S. Sethi, J. S. Ross, J. Schmee, W. A. Thomas, P. Libby, M. A. Gimbrone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Marine fish consumption is known to reduce mortality from ischemic heart disease. The use of fish oil as a dietary supplement, however, is not universally recommended. In large doses, fish oil reduces plasma cholesterol and triacylglycerol but increases low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and the potential for free radical generation and bleeding. Moderate marine fish consumption is known to reduce mortality without altering commonly measured variables, i.e., plasma cholesterol levels, in vitro platelet aggregation, and bleeding times. In swine, we observed that monocyte adhesions and platelet clumps over the lesion surface of proximal left anterior descending (LAD) coronary arteries are markedly reduced when an atherogenic diet was supplemented with cod-liver oil, even when the cholesterol levels were equalized with the untreated group. These findings suggest that fish oil is hypothrombogenic. We developed an in vitro assay to delineate the mechanism whereby fish oil reduced monocyte-endothelial cell interactions in vivo. The effects of supplementing the culture medium with different fatty acids on adhesions between lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated swine aortic endothelial cells (SAEC) and the human monocyte-like cell line, U937, was investigated in a 10 minute adhesion assay at 37°C. Exposure of SAEC for 6 hours to media containing 50-200 μM eicosapentaenoic (EPA), stearic, oleic, linoleic, and arachidonic acid, respectively, revealed that only EPA reduced U937-SAEC adhesion. Exposure of U937 to EPA also reduced adhesions. EPA was not effective when added to the SAEC more than 2 hours after they were stimulated with LPS. Exposure of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) to EPA reduced the expression of VCAM-1, ELAM-1, and ICAM-1 after 5 hours of stimulation with LPS. These results suggest that EPA may functionally impair the induction/expression of adhesion molecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-481
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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