Fish Oil May Be Good Supplemental Treatment for Lupus

Released: 30-Oct-2007 1:00 PM EDT
Embargo expired: 7-Nov-2007 5:30 PM EST
Source Newsroom: American College of Rheumatology (ACR)
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Citations ACR Annual Scientific Meeting

Newswise — Omega-3 fish oils may benefit lupus activity as well as cardiovascular effects for patients with lupus, according to research presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston, Mass.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (also called SLE or lupus) is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, nervous system, and other organs of the body. Patients with lupus may also develop premature cardiovascular disease. Researchers randomly assigned 60 patients with lupus in a double-blind, placebo controlled trial to determine the effect of dietary supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on disease activity and endothelial function.

The investigators employed various methods to measure lupus disease activity and to study endothelial function and cell damaging free radical molecules in this 24-week study.

At the end of the study, participants who had been taking omega-3 fish oil showed significant improvement in all areas of measurement, including improved blood vessel function and a reduction in cell damaging molecules—resulting in potential cardiovascular benefits. There was also a significant improvement in a number of the symptoms of active lupus.

"This study confirms the beneficial effects of omega-3 fish oils in improving the symptoms of SLE and also provides evidence for the potential cardioprotective effect they may have in this group of patients," said Stephen Wright, MD, specialist registrar in rheumatology, department of therapeutics and musculoskeletal education & research unit, Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and lead investigator in the study.

The ACR is an organization of and for physicians, health professionals, and scientists that advances rheumatology through programs of education, research, advocacy and practice support that foster excellence in the care of people with or at risk for arthritis and rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. For more information on the ACR's annual meeting, see http://www.rheumatology.org/annual.

Editor's Notes: Dr. Wright will present this research during the ACR Annual Scientific Meeting at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center from 2:30 " 4:00 pm ET on Friday, November 9, 2007, in Room 210. Dr. Wright will be available for media questions and briefing at 1:30 pm ET on Friday, November 9 in the on-site press conference room, Room 251.

Presentation Number: 1317

A Randomised Placebo-Controlled Interventional Trail of Omega-3-Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Disease Activity and Endothelial Function in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Stephen A. Wright1, Fiona M. O'Prey2, Michelle T. McHenry1, William J. Leahey2, Adrian B. Devine2, Emeir M. Duffy3, Dennis G. Johnston2, Michael B. Finch1, Gary E. McVeigh2, Aubrey L. Bell1. 1Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast, United Kingdom; 2Queens University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom; 3University of Ulster, Belfast, United Kingdom

Purpose: To determine the clinical effect of dietary supplementation with low dose omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids on disease activity and endothelial function in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Methods: A 24 week randomised double-blind placebo-controlled parallel trial of the effect of 3g of omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids on 60 patients with SLE was performed. Serial measurements of disease activity using the revised Systemic Lupus Activity Measure (SLAM-R) and British Isles Lupus Assessment Group index of disease activity for SLE (BILAG), endothelial function using flow mediated dilation of the brachial artery (FMD), oxidative stress using platelet 8-isoprostanes and analysis of platelet membrane fatty acids were taken at baseline, 12 and 24 weeks.

Results: In the fish oil group there was a significant improvement at 24 weeks in SLAM-R (from 9.4±3.0 to 6.3±2.5, p<0.001); in BILAG (from 13.6±6.0 to 6.7±3.8, p<0.001); in FMD (from 3.0% (-0.5-8.2) to 8.9% (1.3-16.9), p<0.001) and in platelet 8-isoprostanes (from 177pg/mg protein (23 - 387) to 90 pg/mg protein (32 - 182), p = 0.007).

Conclusions: Low dose dietary supplementation with omega-3 fish oils in SLE not only has a therapeutic effect on disease activity but also improves endothelial function and reduces oxidative stress and may therefore confer cardiovascular benefits.

Disclosure Block: S.A. Wright, The Wellcome Trust, 2; Lupus UK, 2; F.M. O'Prey, None; M.T. McHenry, None; W.J. Leahey, None; A.B. Devine, None; E.M. Duffy, None; D.G. Johnston, None; M.B. Finch, None; G.E. McVeigh, None; A.L. Bell, None.


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