Eicosapentaenoic Acid Reduces Fecal Levels of Calprotectin and Prevents Relapse in Patients With Ulcerative Colitis

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High fecal levels of calprotectin indicate mucosal inflammation and have been shown to predict relapse in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC). Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the major component of n-3 fish oil, has anti-inflammatory properties in patients with chronic inflammatory disorders. We performed a placebo-controlled trial of patients with UC at risk of relapse to determine the ability of the free fatty acid form of EPA (EPA-FFA) to reduce intestinal inflammation, using fecal level of calprotectin as a marker.


From June 2014 to May 2016, 60 patients with UC with a partial Mayo score < 2 and fecal calprotectin ≥150 μg/g, in stable therapy for at least the 3 previous months, were randomly assigned to groups (1:1) given either EPA-FFA (500 mg, twice daily) or placebo for 6 months. A colonoscopy was performed at baseline. Clinical assessments and measurements of fecal calprotectin were made at baseline, at study months 3 and 6, or the time of clinical relapse. Patients with a relapse of UC underwent a second colonoscopy. The primary end point was a 100-point reduction in fecal levels of calprotectin at 6 months from the baseline value; the secondary end point was maintenance of clinical remission at 6 months.


The primary end point was achieved by 19 of 30 patients (63.3%) in the EPA-FFA group vs 4 of 30 patients (13.3%) in the placebo group (odds ratio, 12.0; 95% CI, 3.12–46.24;P< .001). The secondary end point was achieved by 23 of 30 patients (76.7%) in the EPA-FFA group vs 15 of 30 (50%) patients in the placebo group (OR, 3.29; 95% CI, 1.08–9.95;P= .035). No serious adverse events were observed.


In a placebo-controlled trial of 60 patients with UC, we found 6 months' administration of EPA-FFA to reduce fecal levels of calprotectin with no serious adverse events. This agent might be used to induce and maintain symptom-free remission in patients with UC.ClinicalTrials.govnumber: NCT02179372.

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