In a recent study, we showed that the combination of aspirin plus the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) synergistically inhibited platelet function. As aspirin, EPA, and DHA have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties, we hypothesized that the ingestion of EPA and DHA, with and without aspirin, would reduce plasma levels of inflammatory cytokines and angiogenesis factors more than aspirin alone and before aspirin was ingested.

Using multiplex technology, we investigated the effects of aspirin (single-dose 650 mg on day 1), EPA+DHA (3.4 g/d for days 2-29), and aspirin with EPA+DHA (day 30) on plasma levels of inflammatory cytokines and angiogenesis factors in healthy adults.

Aspirin alone had no effect on any factor versus baseline, but EPA+DHA, with and without aspirin, significantly reduced concentrations of 8 of 9 factors. Although EPA+DHA plus aspirin reduced concentrations of a subset of the factors compared to baseline, neither aspirin alone nor the combination significantly reduced the level of any analyte more robustly than EPA+DHA alone.

These data suggest that EPA+DHA has more pronounced down-regulatory effects on inflammation and angiogenesis than aspirin. The implications of these findings for the use of combined therapy for cardiovascular disease remain to be clarified.