Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Management of Hypertriglyceridemia

March 22, 2018
Linda Peckel
Linda Peckel

The consequences of elevated triglycerides range from xanthomas to CVD. Here, a primer on the mechanism of omega-3 fatty acid therapy.

Triglycerides (TGs) are the main components of body fat in animals and humans. Composed of the combined esters of three fatty acids and glycerol they are critical sources of energy for metabolic processes (containing more than double the caloric energy of carbohydrates).TGs are either directly ingested from dietary sources or synthesized in the liver from carbohydrate molecules. Large TG molecules are then packaged into very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) particles or are added to chylomicrons that are efficiently broken down to release free fatty acids necessary to metabolic processes. TG remnants of these activities are then cleared by the liver.Any breakdown of this process or overwhelming fat and carbohydrate intake that prodcues inadequate TG clearance results in hypertriglyceridemia.The short slide show above summarizes the mechanisms underlying elevated TGs and the role of omega-3 fatty acids in their treatment. References 1.  Arca M, Borghi C, Pontremoli R, et al. Hypertriglyceridemia and omega-3 fatty acids: Their often overlooked role in cardiovascular disease prevention. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2018;28:197-205.2. Goldberg AC. Overview of lipid metabolism. Merck Manual. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/lipid-disorders/overview-of-lipid-metabolism. Accessed 3/19/19.3. Nordestgaard BG, Benn M, Schnohr P, Tybjaerg-Hansen A. Nonfasting triglycerides and risk of myocardial infarction, ischemic heart disease, and death in men and women. JAMA 2007; 298: 299–230.4. Miller M, Cannon CP, Murphy SA, et al. Impact of triglyceride levels beyond low-density lipoprotein cholesterol after acute coronary syndrome in the PROVE IT-TIMI 22 trial. J Am Coll Cardiol 2008;51:724–730.5. Ooi EM, Lichtenstein AH, Millar JS, et al. Effects of Therapeutic Lifestyle Change diets high and low in dietary fish-derived FAs on lipoprotein metabolism in middle-aged and elderly subjects. J Lipid Res 2012;53:1958–1967.6. Tholstrup T, Hellgren LI, Petersen M, et al. A solid dietary fat containing fish oil redistributes lipoprotein subclasses without increasing oxidative stress in men. J Nutr 2004;134:1051–1057.