Atherosclerosis. Chronic effects of fish oil and a therapeutic diet in nonhuman primates.
Prolonged testing of marine fish oil (FO) as a dietary supplement is necessary because of widespread claims that it is antiatherogenic. The basis for such claims is inadequate because atherogenesis is chronic and may not respond to short-term changes induced by dietary treatments. A proven (vervet) model of atherosclerosis promoted by an atherogenic diet (AD) was used to test dietary supplementation with Atlantic pilchard FO for 20 months in 47 omnivorous nonhuman primates. Responses were controlled against known favorable effects of changing from the AD to a therapeutic diet (TD). Compliance was achieved, and tissue responses to the FO dose were confirmed. Compromise of reflex vasoconstriction by atherosclerosis was demonstrated for the first time in the model. Aortic, peripheral, coronary, and cerebral atherosclerosis were assessed by light microscopy and computerized image analysis. No component of atherosclerosis regressed after dietary FO, and several deteriorated. After a change to the TD, stainable lipid was cleared from aortas and there were few lipophages, but advanced atherosclerosis was not reduced. Male vervets developed more severe atherosclerosis than did females, and the association among aortic, peripheral, and coronary atherosclerosis was positive in males. Females were resistant to coronary atherosclerosis. Only mild cerebral atherosclerosis was detected. In conclusion, the FO used was not antiatherogenic in the model, and there is a need for caution. The TD regresses some components of atherosclerosis, but it was not effective against fibrosis, mineralization, and cholesterol crystals within 20 months.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association