Could pre-operative dietary intervention with fish oil reduce neutrophil activation and myocardial damage associated with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB)?

Patients were randomised to receive either 8 g/day fish oil (n=22) or placebo (n=18) for 6 weeks. Neutrophil activation, apoptosis and cardiac damage were measured. Demographics and operative variables were similar.

Fish oil diet decreased plasma VLDL from 0.69+/-0.34 to 0.51+/-0.24 mmol/l and triglycerides from 1.68+/-0.70 to 1.39+/-0.54 mmol/l. HDL cholesterol increased from 0.94+/-0.27 to 1.03+/-0.26 mmol/l demonstrating significant treatment effects (P=0.007, 0.02 and 0.0003, respectively) as well as compliance with treatment.

There were no significant differences in ex vivo N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine-stimulated neutrophil superoxide anion generation or myeloperoxidase release at recruitment, pre-operatively and at end-CPB.
Apoptosis at end-CPB was equally reduced in both groups from 23+/-9% to 13+/-4% in the fish oil group (P<0.001) and 35+/-14% to 15+/-3% in the placebo group (P=0.001). At end-CPB overall troponin I levels averaged 0.91+/-0.60 ng/ml which clearly exceeded diagnostic levels (0.15 ng/ml).

At 24h troponin I fell significantly in the fish oil group to 46+/-23% of end-CPB levels (P=0.0002) whereas it peaked in the placebo group to 107+/-72% (P=0.098 vs. end-CPB); this difference was significant: P=0.013.

At 48 h the placebo-treated patients had higher troponins but not significantly so (P=0.059). Area-under-the-curve analysis did not conclusively support this (P=0.068).

We conclude that fish oil did not significantly decrease post-CPB neutrophil activation (as detected ex vivo) but may moderate post-operative myocardial damage.