Existence of gender differences in cardiovascular disease (CVD) following long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCn-3 PUFA) supplementation have suggested that sex hormones play a role in cardio-protection.

The objective of this study was to determine gender specific responses in the efficacy of LCn-3 PUFA to inhibit platelet aggregation in vitro. Blood was analyzed for collagen-induced platelet aggregation following pre-incubation with LCn-3 PUFA in healthy adults (n=42). Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) was significantly more effective in reducing platelet aggregation compared with docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). When grouped by gender, this differential pattern was followed in males only. In females, DHA, DPA and EPA were all equally effective.

Between group analyses (LCn-3 PUFA vs. gender) showed that both DHA and DPA were significantly less effective in males compared with females. EPA was equally effective in reducing platelet aggregation in both groups. These findings show that significant gender differences exist in platelet aggregation in response to various LCn-3 PUFA treatments.