Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) present in fish oils have been ascribed as having significant antithrombotic and antiatherosclerotic effects.

Vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and restenosis. Recent studies have indicated that serotonin at concentrations present at sites of vascular injury stimulates SMC proliferation and may contribute to the restenotic process.

In the present study we demonstrate that among the fatty acids tested, only EPA and DHA could block the mitogenic effect of serotonin on vascular SMC. Further, when added together these fatty acids act synergistically in blocking the mitogenic effect of serotonin.

EPA and DHA blocked the 5HT-induced increase in the 5-HT(2) receptor mRNA. This antimitogenic effect of EPA and DHA may partially explain some of the beneficial effects of fish oils.