In 20 adult patients suffering from hyperlipidaemia we measured the lipid composition of erythrocyte membrane, the glutathione peroxidase activity in both erythrocytes and platelets, the production of malondialdehyde by platelets stimulated with thrombin, as well as the level of plasma selenium, retinol and alpha-tocopherol, before and after 8 weeks of fish oil supplementation (20 ml daily). We noted a remarkable reduction in plasma triglycerides which was associated with a significant decrease in blood pressure; moreover, we noted a reduction in the amount of arachidonic acid compensated by an increment of omega-3-fatty acid (particularly eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids). The dietary supplementation with fish oil was associated with a significant increase in glutathione peroxidase activity in both erythrocytes and platelets. On the contrary, the production of malondialdehyde, which was originally higher than normal in hyperlipidaemics, was inhibited significantly after fish oil (p less than 0.001). Whereas no changes were observed in the concentration of plasma selenium and alpha-tocopherol, an increment of plasma retinol occurred. These data indicate that in hyperlipidaemics there is a proaggregant status; this situation may be normalized by using a dietary supplementation of fish oil; the increase of polyunsaturated fatty acids on the cell membrane, with a possible increment of the formation of lipoperoxides, induced by fish oil, is compensated by an increased activity of the scavenger enzyme glutathione peroxidase.
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