Cardiac contractile dysfunction, during and following ischaemia, is attenuated by low-dose dietary fish oil in rats

Publication Name

European Journal of Nutrition


Aims: Supplementing animal diets with high-dose fish oil, rich in long chain omega-3 (ω-3) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), enhances cardiac contractile efficiency and attenuates dysfunction, attributable to ischaemia. However, it remains unclear whether smaller doses, equivalent to what is achievable via regular fish consumption in the human diet, offer similar protection. Methods: Male Sprague–Dawley (12−15w) rats were fed isoenergetic diets (ad libitum) containing 10% fat by weight (22% energy) for 4–5w. Control diet (CON) contained 5.5% beef tallow; 2.5% ω-6 sunflower seed oil; 2% olive oil. Fish oil diets included high-DHA tuna oil exchanged for olive oil to provide 0.32% (FO1; human equivalent EPA + DHA 570 mg/d) or 1.25% (FO2; equivalent EPA + DHA 2.3 g/d) wt/wt dose of fish oil. Anaesthetised rats (pentobarbital: 60 mg/kg i.p.) were subjected to 45 min coronary artery occlusion then reperfusion in vivo as a whole animal model of regional myocardial ischaemia, with left ventricular haemodynamic function measured by conductance catheter. Results: Ischaemia-induced reductions in rate pressure product recovered faster in the FO2 group and post-ischaemic left ventricular pressure–volume loop integrity (shifted downwards and right in CON) was partially protected in both fish oil groups. Conclusion: Ischaemia-induced contractile dysfunction in rats is limited from fish oil doses equivalent to regular consumption of fish in the human diet. These observations highlight plausible and clinically relevant physiological changes that rationalise nutritional conditioning of the heart with DHA for on-going cardioprotection.

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