Omega-3 supplements may boost endothelial function, arterial stiffness, and inflammatory status in people with metabolic syndrome, according to a new study from the University of Athens Medical School in Greece.
A daily dose of two grams of omega-3 (46% EPA, 38% DHA) for 12 weeks led to improvements in flow mediated dilation (FMD – a measure of blood flow and vascular health) and PWV (pulse wave velocity, a measure of the stiffness of arteries), compared to placebo.
In addition, results published in Atherosclerosis indicated that levels of inflammatory biomarkers, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), decreased significantly in the omega-3 group, compared to placebo.
“The effect of omega-3 PUFAs on vascular endothelium and endothelial activation provides a novel mechanism by which omega-3 PUFAs affects vascular compliance, which requires further investigation,” wrote the researchers, led by Dimitris Tousoulis.
Commenting on the study’s results, Harry Rice, PhD, V.P. of Regulatory & Scientific Affairs for the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), told us that the present findings are, “important given that individual components of metabolic syndrome are associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD).
“The study results, however, cannot be used to draw conclusions about potential long-term benefits in this specific population or any benefit, regardless of duration, in subjects with different metabolic profiles.”
The Athens-based researchers recruited 29 people with metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either the omega-3 supplements or placebo for 12 weeks. This was followed by a four week ‘washout’ period with no interventions before the participants crossed over to the other group.
Results of the randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over study showed that FMD and PWV improved following the omega-3 supplementation period, whereas no significant changes were observed during the placebo intervention.
In addition, IL-6 levels decreased significantly as a result of the omega-3 intervention, whereas no significant changes were observed after placebo.
“These results provide further inside into how omega-3 PUFAs administration can alter arterial wall properties and improve cardiovascular outcome of subjects with MetS,” wrote the researchers.
The omega-3 supplementation period was also associated with significant decrease in triglyceride levels, and in total cholesterol levels, they said.
January 2014, Volume 232, Number 1, Pages 10-16. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.10.014
“Omega-3 PUFAs improved endothelial function and arterial stiffness with a parallel antiinflammatory effect in adults with metabolic syndrome”
Authors: D. Tousoulis, A. Plastiras, G. Siasos, et al.