Gender-specific inhibition of platelet aggregation following omega-3 fatty acid supplementation

M. Phang, A. J. Sinclair, Lisa F. Lincz, M. L. Garg

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36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background and Aims: Increased platelet aggregation is a major risk factor for heart attacks, stroke and thrombosis. Long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn-3PUFA; eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA; docosahexaenoic acid, DHA) reduce platelet aggregation; however studies in the published literature involving EPA and/or DHA supplementation have yielded equivocal results. Recent in vitro studies have demonstrated that inhibition of platelet aggregation by LCn-3PUFA is gender specific. We examined the acute effects of dietary supplementation with EPA or DHA rich oils on platelet aggregation in healthy male and females. Methods and Results: A blinded placebo controlled trial involving 15 male and 15 female subjects. Platelet aggregation was measured at 0, 2, 5 and 24h post-supplementation with a single dose of either a placebo or EPA or DHA rich oil capsules. The relationship between LCn-3PUFA and platelet activity at each time point was examined according to gender vs. treatment. EPA was significantly the most effective in reducing platelet aggregation in males at 2, 5 and 24h post-supplementation (-11%, -10.6%, -20.5% respectively) whereas DHA was not effective relative to placebo. In contrast, in females, DHA significantly reduced platelet aggregation at 24h (-13.7%) while EPA was not effective. An inverse relationship between testosterone levels and platelet aggregation following EPA supplementation was observed. Conclusion: Interactions between sex hormones and omega-3 fatty acids exist to differentially reduce platelet aggregation. For healthy individuals, males may benefit more from EPA supplementation while females are more responsive to DHA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-114
Number of pages6
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Gender
  • Platelet aggregation
  • Sex hormones

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