Eicosapentaenoic acid is primarily responsible for hypotriglyceridemic effect of fish oil in humans

Gro S. Rambjør, Ann I. Wlen, Sheryl L. Windsor, William Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

134 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to determine whether eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), or both, were responsible for the triglyceride (TG)-lowering effects of fish oil. EPA (91% pure) and DHA (83% pure), a fish oil concentrate (FOC; 41% EPA and 23% DHA) and an olive oil (OO) placebo (all ethyl esters) were tested. A total of 49 normolipidemic subjects participated. Each subject was given placebo for 2-3 wk and one of the n-3 supplements for 3 wk in randomized, blinded trials. The target n-3 fatty acid (FA) intake was 3 g/day in all studies. Blood samples were drawn twice at the end of each supplementation phase and analyzed for lipids, lipoproteins, and phospholipid FA composition. In all groups, the phospholipid FA composition changed to reflect the n-3 FA given. On DHA supplementation, EPA levels increased to a small but significant extent, suggesting that some retroconversion may have occurred. EPA supplementation did not raise DHA levels, however, FOC and EPA produced significant decreases in both TG and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol (C) levels (P2/HDL3 cholesterol ratio. We conclude that EPA appears to be primarily responsible for TG-lowering (and LDL-C raising) effects of fish oil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1996
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Food Science

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