, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 109–115 | Cite as

Dose-Dependent Effects of Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation on Blood Lipids in Statin-Treated Hyperlipidaemic Subjects

  • Barbara J. MeyerEmail author
  • Tone Hammervold
  • Arild Chr. Rustan
  • Peter R. C. Howe
Original Article


The objective of the study was to evaluate potential benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) rich fish oil supplementation as an adjunct to statin therapy for hyperlipidaemia. A total of 45 hyperlipidaemic patients on stable statin therapy with persistent elevation of plasma triglycerides (averaging 2.2 mmol/L) were randomised to take 4 g/day (n = 15) or 8 g/day (n = 15) of tuna oil or olive oil (placebo, n = 15) for 6 months. Plasma lipids, blood pressure and arterial compliance were assessed initially and after 3 and 6 months in 40 subjects who completed the trial. Plasma triglycerides were reduced 27% by 8 g/day DHA-rich fish oil (P < 0.05) but not by 4 g/day when compared with the placebo and this reduction was achieved by 3 months and was sustained at 6 months. Even though total cholesterol was already well controlled by the statin treatment (mean initial level 4.5 mmol/L), there was a further dose-dependent reduction with fish oil supplementation (r = −0.344, P < 0.05). The extent of total cholesterol reduction correlated (r = −0.44) with the initial total cholesterol levels (P < 0.005). In the subset with initial plasma cholesterol above 3.8 mmol/L, plasma very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) were isolated and assayed for cholesterol and apolipoprotein B (apoB) at the commencement of the trial and at 3 months of intervention. Fish oil tended to lower cholesterol and apoB in VLDL and raise both in LDL. There were no changes in IDL cholesterol, IDL apoB and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The results demonstrate that DHA-rich fish oil supplementation (2.16 g DHA/day) can improve plasma lipids in a dose-dependent manner in patients taking statins and these changes were achieved by 3 months. Fish oil in addition to statin therapy may be preferable to drug combinations for the treatment of combined hyperlipidaemia.


Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids Statin therapy Docosahexaenoic acid Hyperlipidaemia Combination therapy 



Analysis of variance


Coronary heart disease


Docosahexaenoic acid


Eicosapentaenoic acid


High-density lipoprotein


High-density lipoprotein cholesterol


Intermediate-density lipoprotein


Low-density lipoprotein


Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol


Polyunsaturated fatty acids


Very low density lipoprotein


Very low density lipoprotein cholesterol



The authors would like to acknowledge the study volunteers for their participation in the trial and Professor Dennis Calvert for the medical supervision of subject enrolment. The supply of placebo and DHA-rich fish oil capsules from Clover Corporation is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© AOCS 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara J. Meyer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tone Hammervold
    • 2
  • Arild Chr. Rustan
    • 2
  • Peter R. C. Howe
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Health SciencesUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, School of PharmacyUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  3. 3.Nutritional Physiology Research Centre, School of Health SciencesUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia

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