BACKGROUND: Fish oil, containing (n-3) PUFA, is associated with a moderate reduction in cardiovascular disease through a multifactorial mechanism involving a decrease in plasma lipids and anticoagulant activity.

METHOD: Two intervention studies on subjects at risk were performed to determine the relation of these 2 fish-oil effects. In study 1, 54 overweight subjects consumed 3.1 g (n-3) PUFA daily. In study 2, which involved 42 overweight patients with type 2 diabetes, 20 subjects consumed (n-3) PUFA, whereas 22 others ingested a preparation rich in (n-6) PUFA. Tissue factor-induced thrombin generation (thrombin potential) was determined as an integrated measure of plasma coagulant activity.

RESULTS: In both studies, multivariate analysis indicated a strong clustering of fasting concentrations of triacylglycerols, prothrombin, factor V, factor VII, and factor X with one another at baseline. This cluster of factors determined partly the interindividual variation in thrombin generation, of which prothrombin and triacylglycerol concentrations were the main determinants. In both healthy subjects and diabetes patients, high triacylglycerol concentrations (>1.69 mmol/L) at baseline were closely linked to a strong fish oil–induced lowering of triacylglycerol and coagulation factor V, VII, and X concentrations, and thrombin generation.

CONCLUSION: We conclude that high fasting triacylglycerol concentrations predict high procoagulant activity and a lowering of thrombin potential with dietary fish oil.