The effects of fish oil supplements on lipid profile in dialysis patients are controversial. With increasing interest in the potential health benefits of fish oil, it is important to explore its real effects.

We aimed to identify and quantify the effects of fish oil on triglyceride (TG), total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in dialysis patients.

PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched for relevant trials of fish oil and lipid profile in dialysis patients. We identified 209 potential studies and included 13 randomized controlled trials. Eligible studies, determined by consensus using predefined criteria, were reviewed in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and a meta-analysis was performed.

Compared with the control group, serum TG and TC levels in the fish oil group were reduced by 0.23 mmol/L (95% CI, -0.31, -0.14, P <0.01) and 0.12 mmol/L (95% CI, -0.23, -0.01, P =0.03), respectively. HDL-C levels were increased by 0.20 mmol/L (95% CI, 0.01, 0.40, P <0.01) attributable to fish oil. In contrast, fish oil did not influence serum LDL-C levels. Subgroup analysis showed the effects of fish oil were stronger in subjects with higher baseline TG levels, and the long-term intervention (>12w) demonstrated a tendency towards greater improvement of serum HDL-C and LDL-C levels compared with short-term intervention (≤12 w). However, both of the changes were not statistically significant in meta-regression analysis. There were no obvious difference in effects of different doses and components of fish oil on lipid levels.

Fish oil supplements reduced serum TG and TC levels, and increased HDL-C levels, without affecting LDL-C levels among dialysis patients. It should benefit patients at risk of cardiovascular diseases. Based on randomized controlled trials, we suggested a daily supplement dose of fish oil for dialysis patients of >1 g, but a high dose might not be necessary.

PMID: 25106703

See following website for full manuscript.