Long chain n-3 fatty acids present in fish oils have been shown to reduce fasting plasma triglyceride and very low density lipoprotein levels in normal and hyperlipidemic human subjects. The present studies were designed to examine whether dietary n-3 fatty acids influence chylomicron formation and metabolism in healthy volunteers. In the first study seven subjects were fed either saturated fat, vegetable oil, or fish oil-based diets for 4 weeks each, and test meals containing 50 g of the background fat were administered after the second week of each diet. The postprandial rise in triglyceride levels was significantly lower following the fish oil test meal as compared to the saturated fat or vegetable oil test meals. In the second study, six subjects eating their usual home diets were given two fat tolerance tests. The first contained saturated fat and the second, given 1 week later, contained fish oil. There was no difference in the postprandial triglyceride response between the fish oil and the saturated fat meals. A third study was then conducted with eight volunteers in which saturated fat and fish oil test meals were administered during saturated fat and fish oil background diets in a crossover design. The presence of fish oil in the background diet reduced postprandial lipemia regardless of the type of fat in the test meal. Although there was no effect of the fish oil diet on the lipoprotein lipase and hepatic lipase activity of postheparin plasma measured in vitro, stimulation of in vivo lipolysis was not ruled out. Our results suggest that chronic (but not acute) intake of fish oil may inhibit the synthesis or secretion of chylomicrons from the gut. However, accelerated clearance due to decreased VLDL competition cannot be excluded.

PMID: 3241121

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