Biochemical and physiological responsiveness to low dose fish-oil intakes: Impact of genotype, gender, age and geography

From January 2003 to December 2005
Project Leader(s): Prof John Mathers , Dr Georg Lietz, Dr. A. Minnihane (University of Reading)

Staff: Peter Curtis (Research Associate)
Sponsors: Food Standards Agency

Overview of project: Recent outcomes from secondary intervention trials involving fish oil fatty acids and a large consistent body of experimental data showing cardioprotective actions of eicosapentaenoic and decosahexaenoic acids (EPA + DHA), provide powerful arguments for recommending increased intakes of these fatty acids in the UK population. However, a number of key questions concerning heterogeneous responses in specific sub-groups need to be addressed before population-based recommendations for increased EPA + DHA can be made with confidence. Many experimental studies conducted to date have examined the impact of high doses of EPA + DHA on CHD risk outcomes only in middle aged males. The impact of these fatty acids on cardiovascular risk markers at more physiological levels of intake, and in men and women of all ages, is not know. In particular, a great del of uncertainty remains regarding the possible deleterious impact of EPA + DHA on circulating LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) levels. Increases in LDL-C ranging from 0-30% following fish oil supplementation have been reported in the literature. Our preliminary work, using retrospective genotyping, suggests that increases in LDL-C may be unique to individuals with an apoE4 genotype, with increases in LDL-C of up to 20% evident in this sub-group. In the current study the impact of apoE genotype, gender, age on responsiveness to low dose EPA + DHA supplementation will be assessed.

Dates of Project: January 2003 - December 2005

Value of Project: £291,193 (Newcastle Budget)


Dr Georg Lietz
Senior Lecturer

Professor John Mathers
Professor of Human Nutrition