Fish Oil and Lp(a)
The effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) on serum lipoprotein (a) (Lp(a)) and other lipid levels in patients with vascular disease were examined. The serum levels of Lp(a), total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) were measured in 24 patients with vascular disease. An elevated serum Lp(a) level (39 +/- 22 mg/dl) was noted in 9 patients, elevated total cholesterol level (263 +/- 31 mg/dl) in 12 patients, elevated triglyceride level (240 +/- 98 mg/dl) in 10 patients and elevated LDL level (651 +/- 88 mg/dl) in 6 patients before administration of EPA. EPA (1,800 mg/day) was given to these patients for long periods ranging from 6 to 24 months. The serum levels of Lp(a), TC, TG and LDL were lowered significantly (p < 0.05) after EPA administration for 12 and 18 months, for 6, 12, 18 and 24 months, for 18 months and for 12 and 18 months, respectively. These findings indicated that long-term administration of EPA may lower Lp(a) and serum lipids, which is beneficial for patients with various arterial diseases in terms of preventing progression of the disease.
Marcovina SM, Kennedy H, Bittolo Bon G, Cazzalota G, Galli C, Casigilia E, Puato M, Pauletto P.
Plasma lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] levels are largely genetically determined by sequences linked to the gene encoding apolipoprotein(a) [apo(a)], the distinct protein component of Lp(a). Apo(a) is highly polymorphic in length due to variation in the numbers of a sequence encoding the apo(a) kringle 4 domain, and plasma levels of Lp(a) are inversely correlated with apo(a) size. In 2 racially homogeneous Bantu populations from Tanzania differing in their dietary habits, we found that median plasma levels of Lp(a) were 48% lower in those living on a fish diet than in those living on a vegetarian diet. Considering the relationship between apo(a) size and Lp(a) plasma concentration, we have extensively evaluated apo(a) isoform distribution in the 2 populations to determine the impact of apo(a) size in the determination of Lp(a) values. The majority of individuals (82% of the fishermen and 80% of the vegetarians) had 2 expressed apo(a) alleles. Additionally, the fishermen had a high frequency of large apo(a) isoforms, whereas a higher frequency of small isoforms was found in the vegetarians. When subjects from the 2 groups were matched for apo(a) phenotype, the median Lp(a) value was 40% lower in Bantus on the fish diet than in those on the vegetarian diet. A significant inverse relationship was also found between plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and Lp(a) levels (r=-0.24, P=0.01). The results of this study are consistent with the concept that a diet rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and not genetic differences, is responsible for the lower plasma levels of Lp(a) in the fish-eating Bantus and strongly suggest that a sustained fish-based diet is able to lower plasma levels of Lp(a).