, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 33–38 | Cite as

Dietary fish oil augments nitric oxide production or release in patients with Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus

  • G. E. McVeigh
  • G. M. Brennan
  • G. D. Johnston
  • B. J. McDermott
  • L. T. McGrath
  • W. R. Henry
  • J. W. Andrews
  • J. R. Hayes


Decreased release of nitric oxide from damaged endothelium is responsible for the impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilator responses found in animal models of vascular disease. Dietary supplementation with fish oils has been shown to augment endothelium-dependent relaxations, principally by improving the release of nitric oxide from injured endothelium. Using forearm venous occlusion plethysmography we studied vascular responses to 60, 120, 180 and 240 nmol/min of acetylcholine (an endothelium-dependent vasodilator) and 3, 6 and 9 nmol/min of glyceryl trinitrate (an endothelium-independent vasodilator) infused into the brachial artery in 23 patients with Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus. NG monomethyl-l-arginine was employed to inhibit stimulated and basal release of nitric oxide from the endothelium. On completion of the baseline studies patients randomly received either fish oil or matching olive oil capsules in a double-blind crossover fashion for 6 weeks followed by a 6-week washout period and a final 6-week treatment phase. Studies, identical to the initial baseline studies, were performed at the end of the active treatment periods at 6 and 18 weeks. Fish oil supplementation significantly improved forearm blood flow responses to each dose of acetylcholine when compared to the vasodilator responses recorded at baseline and after olive oil administration (p<0.01). Neither fish oil nor olive oil supplementation produced any significant changes in forearm blood flow to the incremental infusions of glyceryl trinitrate when compared with responses recorded during the baseline studies. NG monomethyl-l-arginine significantly reduced forearm blood flow from maximal stimulated values to acetylcholine when compared to the uninhibited decline in flow to acetylcholine infusions at comparable time points (p<0.01). Treatment with fish oils improved endothelium-dependent responses to acetylcholine without altering endothelium-independent responses to glyceryl trinitrate. By increasing stimulated nitric oxide release from the endothelium fish oils may afford protection against vasospasm and thrombosis in patients with diabetes mellitus.

Key words

Acetylcholine NG monomethyl-l-arginine nitric oxide glyceryl trinitrate fish oils Type 2 (non-insulin-de-pendent) diabetes mellitus 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. E. McVeigh
    • 1
  • G. M. Brennan
    • 1
  • G. D. Johnston
    • 1
  • B. J. McDermott
    • 1
  • L. T. McGrath
    • 1
  • W. R. Henry
    • 2
  • J. W. Andrews
    • 3
  • J. R. Hayes
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Therapeutics and PharmacologyThe Queen's University of BelfastBelfastNorthern Ireland
  2. 2.Department of MedicineBelfast City HospitalBelfastNorthern Ireland
  3. 3.Department of MedicineWhiteabbey HospitalBelfastNorthern Ireland

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