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

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

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139 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 (P < 0.01) and increases in low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (P < 0.05). DHA supplementation did not affect cholesterol, triglyceride, VLDL, LDL, or high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, but it did cause a significant increase in the HDL2/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)
Pages (from-to)S-45-S49
Issue number3 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Mar 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Cell Biology


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