OBJECTIVE: To assess fasting lipid responses to a docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplement in men and women with below-average levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

METHODS: This randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial included 57 subjects, 21-80 years of age, with fasting HDL cholesterol concentrations < or =44 mg/dL (men) and < or =54 mg/dL (women), but > or =35 mg/dL. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either 1.52 g/day DHA from capsules containing DHA-rich algal triglycerides or olive oil (control) for six weeks.

RESULTS: There were no significant differences between groups in baseline lipid values. The DHA supplemented group showed significant changes [-43 (DHA) vs. -14 (controls) mg/dL, p = 0.015] and percent changes [-21% (DHA) vs. -7% (controls), p = 0.009] in triglycerides, total (12 vs. 3 mg/dL; p = 0.021 and 6% vs. 2%; p = 0.018) and low-density lipoprotein (17 vs. 3 mg/dL; p = 0.001 and 12% vs. 3%; p = 0.001) cholesterol concentrations, and in the triglyceride to HDL cholesterol ratio (-1.33 vs. -0.50, p = 0.010), compared with controls. In addition, there was a significant reduction in the percentage of LDL cholesterol carried by small, dense particles in the DHA supplemented group (changes = -10% vs. -3%, p = 0.025).

CONCLUSIONS: Supplementation with 1.52 g/d of DHA in men and women with below-average HDL cholesterol concentrations raised the LDL cholesterol level, but had favorable effects on triglycerides, the triglyceride/HDL cholesterol ratio and the fraction of LDL cholesterol carried by small, dense particles. Further research is warranted to evaluate the net impact of these alterations on cardiovascular risk.

Keywords: LDL Cholesterol, vLDL Cholesterol

PMID: 15930485