Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and total homocysteine levels in end-stage renal disease patients

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Elevated total homocysteine (tHcy) levels are commonplace among end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients increasing risk for poor cardiovascular outcomes. Specifically, when plasma levels become significantly elevated, tHcy levels appear to contribute to vascular damage and premature atherosclerosis. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of an over-the-counter omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid supplementation on tHcy levels in ESRD patients undergoing chronic haemodialysis.


The present study was conducted using a double-blind, permuted-randomized and placebo-controlled experimental protocol. ESRD patients were followed prospectively while supplementing n-3 or corn oil (n-6) prospectively for 6 months.


Sixty-nine patients were recruited that had previously demonstrated compliance with dialysis and medication. Following a 12 h fast, participants donated 12 mL of blood for analysis of tHcy at baseline and at 6 months.


The results of this study using regression models revealed no differences in age and gender regarding homocysteine levels at the post-test with P-values of 0.6818, 0.6709 and 0.3331 for each regression model. The study findings also revealed that daily administration of 6 g of n-3 fatty acids containing 160 mg of eicosapentaenic acid (0.96 g/day) and 100 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (0.6 g/day) had no effect on tHcy levels when compared with control.


Potential reasons for this non-significant result may be found in a dose–response relationship, advancement of disease progression in our sample population, or potentially the lack of a significant relationship between fish oil and tHcy. Future studies should address whether a dose–response relationship between n-3 fatty acid supplementation and tHcy levels exists, and how stage of disease progression affects intervention success or failure.

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