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July 2001

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Docosahexaenoic acid but not eicosapentaenoic acid lowers ambulatory blood pressure and heart rate in humans.

Animal studies suggest that the 2 major omega3 fatty acids found in fish, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), may have differential effects on blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR). The aim of this study was to determine whether there were significant differences in the effects of purified EPA or DHA on ambulatory BP and HR in humans. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of parallel design, 59 overweight, mildly hyperlipidemic men were randomized to 4 g/d of purified EPA, DHA, or olive oil (placebo) capsules and continued their usual diets for 6 weeks. Fifty-six subjects completed the study. Only DHA reduced 24-hour and daytime (awake) ambulatory BP (P<0.05). Relative to the placebo group, 24-hour BP fell 5.8/3.3 (systolic/diastolic) mm Hg and daytime BP fell 3.5/2.0 mm Hg with DHA. DHA also significantly reduced 24-hour, daytime, and nighttime (asleep) ambulatory HRs (P=0. 001). Relative to the placebo group, DHA reduced 24-hour HR by 3. 5+/-0.8 bpm, daytime HR by 3.7+/-1.2 bpm, and nighttime HR by 2. 8+/-1.2. EPA had no significant effect on ambulatory BP or HR. Supplementation with EPA increased plasma phospholipid EPA from 1. 66+/-0.07% to 9.83+/-0.06% (P<0.0001) but did not change DHA levels. Purified DHA capsules increased plasma phospholipid DHA levels from 4.00+/-0.27% to 10.93+/-0.62% (P<0.0001) and led to a small, nonsignificant increase in EPA (1.52+/-0.12% to 2.26+/-0.16%). Purified DHA but not EPA reduced ambulatory BP and HR in mildly hyperlipidemic men. The results of this study suggest that DHA is the principal omega3 fatty acid in fish and fish oils that is responsible for their BP- and HR-lowering effects in humans. These results have important implications for human nutrition and the food industry.

Hypertension 1999 Aug;34(2):253-60

Gamma-linolenic acid dietary supplementation can reverse the aging influence on rat liver microsome delta 6-desaturase activity.

We have recently demonstrated that in rats the process of delta 6-desaturation of linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids slows with aging. One method of counteracting the effect of slowed desaturation of linoleic acid would be to provide the 6-desaturated metabolite, gamma-linolenic acid (18:3(n-6) GLA) directly. We have here investigated the 6-desaturation of both linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids in liver microsomes of young and old rats given GLA in the form of evening primrose oil (EPO) (B diet) in comparison to animals given soy bean oil alone (A diet), monitoring also the fatty acid composition of liver microsomes and relating this to the microviscosity of the membranes. In young rats the different experimental diets did not produce any difference in delta 6-desaturase (D6D) activity on either substrate suggesting that, when D6D activity is at or near its peak, the variations in diet tested are unable to influence it. In the old animals the rate of 6-desaturation of linoleic and particularly of alpha-linolenic acid was significantly greater in the B diet fed animals than in the A diet fed. The effects of the diets on the fatty acid composition of liver microsomes were consistent with the findings with regard to 6-desaturation. Administration of GLA partially corrected the abnormalities of n-6 essential fatty acid (EFA) metabolism by raising the concentration of 20:4(n-6) and other 6-desaturated EFAs. Furthermore, the GLA rich diet also increased the levels of dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid and of 6-desaturated n-3 EFAs in the liver microsomes. The microviscosity of microsomal membranes as indicated by DPH polarization was correlated with the unsaturation index of the same membranes. There was a very strong correlation between the two. In both young and old rats the B diet reduced the microviscosity and increased the unsaturation index. However, the effect was much greater in the old animals.

Biochim Biophys Acta 1991 May 8;1083(2):187-92

Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is essential for the growth and functional development of the brain in infants. DHA is also required for maintenance of normal brain function in adults. The inclusion of plentiful DHA in the diet improves learning ability, whereas deficiencies of DHA are associated with deficits in learning. DHA is taken up by the brain in preference to other fatty acids. The turnover of DHA in the brain is very fast, more so than is generally realized. The visual acuity of healthy, full-term, formula-fed infants is increased when their formula includes DHA. During the last 50 years, many infants have been fed formula diets lacking DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids. DHA deficiencies are associated with foetal alcohol syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cystic fibrosis, phenylketonuria, unipolar depression, aggressive hostility and adrenoleukodystrophy. Decreases in DHA in the brain are associated with cognitive decline during aging and with onset of sporadic Alzheimer disease. The leading cause of death in western nations is cardiovascular disease. Epidemiological studies have shown a strong correlation between fish consumption and reduction in sudden death from myocardial infarction. The reduction is approximately 50% with 200 mg day (-1) of DHA from fish. DHA is the active component in fish. Not only does fish oil reduce triglycerides in the blood and decrease thrombosis, but it also prevents cardiac arrhythmias. The association of DHA deficiency with depression is the reason for the robust positive correlation between depression and myocardial infarction. Patients with cardiovascular disease or Type II diabetes are often advised to adopt a low-fat diet with a high proportion of carbohydrate. A study with women shows that this type of diet increases plasma triglycerides and the severity of Type II diabetes and coronary heart disease. DHA is present in fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) and mother's milk. DHA is present at low levels in meat and eggs, but is not usually present in infant formulas. EPA, another long-chain n-3 fatty acid, is also present in fatty fish. The shorter chain n-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, is not converted very well to DHA in man. These longchain n-3 fatty acids (also known as omega-3 fatty acids) are now becoming available in some foods, especially infant formula and eggs in Europe and Japan. Fish oil decreases the proliferation of tumour cells, whereas arachidonic acid, a longchain n-6 fatty acid, increases their proliferation. These opposite effects are also seen with inflammation, particularly with rheumatoid arthritis, and with asthma. DHA has a positive effect on diseases such as hypertension, arthritis, atherosclerosis, depression, adult-onset diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, thrombosis and some cancers.

Pharmacol Res 1999 Sep;40(3):211-25

A randomized controlled trial of early dietary supply of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and mental development in term infants.

The effects of dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supply during infancy on later cognitive development of healthy term infants were evaluated in a randomized clinical trial of infant formula milk supplemented with 0.35% DHA or with 0.36% DHA and 0.72% arachidonic acid (AA), or control formula which provided no DHA or AA. Fifty-six 18-month-old children (26 male, 30 female) who were enrolled in the trial within the first 5 days of life and fed the assigned diet to 17 weeks of age were tested using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, 2nd edition (BSID-II) (Bayley 1993) at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest, Dallas, TX. These children had also been assessed at 4 months and 12 months of age for blood fatty-acid composition, sweep visual evoked potential (VEP) acuity, and forced-choice preferential looking (FPL) acuity (Birch et al. 1998). Supplementation of infant formula with DHA+AA was associated with a mean increase of 7 points on the Mental Development Index (MDI) of the BSID-II. Both the cognitive and motor subscales of the MDI showed a significant developmental age advantage for DHA- and DHA+AA-supplemented groups over the control group. While a similar trend was found for the language subscale, it did not reach statistical significance. Neither the Psychomotor Development Index nor the Behavior Rating Scale of the BSID-II showed significant differences among diet groups, consistent with a specific advantage of DHA supplementation on mental development. Significant correlations between plasma and RBC-DHA at 4 months of age but not at 12 months of age and MDI at 18 months of age suggest that early dietary supply of DHA was a major dietary determinant of improved performance on the MDI.

Dev Med Child Neurol 2000 Mar;42(3):174-81


The in vitro effects of new non-steroidal antiinflammatory compounds on antioxidant system of human erythrocytes.

It has been reported by our group that some benzoxazolone and benzothiazolone derivatives showed significant antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activity [DOGRUER et al. 1997]. It has been speculated that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can act as the free radical scavengers and possess antioxidant activity. It is also well documented that oxidative stress can play an important role in the side effects of many xenobiotics including NSAIDs. Therefore, in the present study, the effects of six of the above mentioned benzoxazolone and benzothiazolone derivatives bearing 2-pyridylaminocarbonylmetyl moiety at the position 3 (I) on the antioxidant system-related parameters of human erythrocytes have been investigated. Diclofenac and nimesulid were also tested in the same systems as the control, because they are commonly used as NSAIDs. Our results showed that these compounds made significant changes in the antioxidant system of human erythrocyte.

Exp Toxicol Pathol 1999 Jul;51(4-5):397-402

Nimesulid and renal impairment.

OBJECTIVES: To analyse from spontaneous reporting data the renal adverse reactions associated with the use of nimesulid. METHODS: Case reports were obtained from a Northern Italian Regional database (Veneto Pharmacovigilance System), containing all the spontaneous reports filed between 1988 and 1997. The Veneto Region is the principal contributor to the Italian spontaneous reporting system, with an annual report rate of approximately 17 per 100,000 inhabitants. The clinical records of hospitalized patients were also analysed. RESULTS: Of the 120 reports associated with oral nimesulid, 11 referred to suspected renal adverse reactions. The drug was taken by ten patients for a short period. All the patients discontinued the therapy and hospitalization was required in six cases. Other risk factors were identified in six cases. DISCUSSION: Together with the new insights into the possible consequences of renal cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibition, the reported cases should draw the attention of doctors and patients to the importance of recognizing any possible signs of renal impairment during nimesulid therapy, although only extensive epidemiological data can define the real impact of its renal toxicity.

Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1999 Apr;55(2):151-4

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