Characterisation of the vasodilation effects of DHA and EPA, n-3 PUFAs (fish oils), in rat aorta and mesenteric resistance arteries

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Background and purpose Increasing evidence suggests that the omega-3 polyunsaturated acids (n-3 PUFA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are beneficial to cardiovascular health, promoting relaxation of vascular smooth muscle cells and vasodilation. Numerous studies have attempted to study these responses, but to date there has not been a systematic characterisation of both DHA and EPA mediated vasodilation in conduit and resistance arteries. Therefore, we aimed to fully characterise the n-3 PUFA-induced vasodilation pathways in rat aorta and mesenteric artery. Methods Wire myography was used to measure the vasomotor responses of freshly dissected rat mesenteric artery and aorta. Arteries were pre-constricted with U46619 and cumulative concentrations of either DHA or EPA (10 nM-30 μM) were added. The mechanisms by which n-3 PUFA relaxed arteries were investigated using inhibitors of vasodilator pathways, which include: nitric oxide synthase (NOS; L-NAME), cycloxygenase (COX; indomethacin), cytochrome P450 epoxygenase (CYP450; clotrimazole); and calcium-activated potassium channels (KCa), SKCa (apamin), IKCa (TRAM-34) and BKCa (paxilline). Results Both DHA- and EPA-induced relaxations were partially inhibited following endothelium removal in rat mesenteric arteries. Similarly, in aorta EPA-induced relaxation was partially suppressed due to endothelium removal. CYP450 also contributed to EPA-induced relaxation in mesenteric artery. Inhibition of IKCa partially attenuated DHA-induced relaxation in aorta and mesenteric artery along with EPA-induced relaxation in mesenteric artery. Furthermore, this inhibition of DHA- and EPA-induced relaxation was increased following the additional blockade of BKCa in these arteries. Conclusions This study provides evidence of heterogeneity in the vasodilation mechanisms of DHA and EPA in different vascular beds. Our data also demonstrates that endothelium removal has little effect on relaxations produced by either PUFA. We demonstrate IKCa and BKCa are involved in DHA-induced relaxation in rat aorta and mesenteric artery; and EPA-induced relaxation in rat mesenteric artery only. CYP450 derived metabolites of EPA may also be involved in BKCa dependent relaxation. To our knowledge this is the first study indicating the involvement of IKCa in n-3 PUFA mediated relaxation.




Limbu, R., Cottrell, G. S., & McNeish, A. J. (2018). Characterisation of the vasodilation effects of DHA and EPA, n-3 PUFAs (fish oils), in rat aorta and mesenteric resistance arteries. PLoS ONE, 13(2).

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