Fish oil (FO) has antiinflammatory effects, which might reduce systemic inflammation induced by a cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB).

We tested whether perioperative infusions of FO modify the cell membrane composition, inflammatory responses, and clinical course of patients undergoing elective coronary artery bypass surgery.

A prospective randomized controlled trial was conducted in cardiac surgery patients who received 3 infusions of 0.2 g/kg FO emulsion or saline (control) 12 and 2 h before and immediately after surgery. Blood samples (7 time points) and an atrial biopsy (during surgery) were obtained to assess the membrane incorporation of PUFAs. Hemodynamic data, catecholamine requirements, and core temperatures were recorded at 10-min intervals; blood triglycerides, nonesterified fatty acids, glucose, lactate, inflammatory cytokines, and carboxyhemoglobin concentrations were measured at selected time points.

Twenty-eight patients, with a mean ± SD age of 65.5 ± 9.9 y, were enrolled with no baseline differences between groups. Significant increases in platelet EPA (+0.86%; P = 0.0001) and DHA (+0.87%; P = 0.019) were observed after FO consumption compared with at baseline. Atrial tissue EPA concentrations were higher after FO than after control treatments (+0.5%; P < 0.0001). FO did not significantly alter core temperature but decreased the postoperative rise in IL-6 (P = 0.018). Plasma triglycerides increased transiently after each FO infusion. Plasma concentrations of glucose, lactate, and blood carboxyhemoglobin were lower in the FO than in the control group on the day after surgery. Arrhythmia incidence was low with no significant difference between groups. No adverse effect of FO was detected.

Perioperative FO infusions significantly increased PUFA concentrations in platelet and atrial tissue membranes within 12 h of the first FO administration and decreased biological and clinical signs of inflammation. These results suggest that perioperative FO may be beneficial in elective cardiac surgery with CPB.