BACKGROUND: Effects of fish oil on systematic inflammation in chronic heart failure remain unclear. In this meta-analysis, we aimed to evaluate the influence of fish oil supplementation on circulating levels of inflammatory markers in patients with chronic heart failure.
METHODS: Human randomized controlled trials, which compared the effects of fish oil supplementation with placebo in patients with chronic heart failure, were identified by systematic search of Medline, Embase, Cochrane's library and references cited in related reviews and studies up to November 2011. Outcome measures comprised the changes of circulating inflammatory markers. Meta-analysis was performed with the fixed-effect model or random-effect model according to the heterogeneity.
RESULTS: A total of seven trials with eight study arms were included. The pooled results indicated circulating levels of tumor necrosis factor α (SMD = -0.62, 95% CI -1.08 to -0.16, p = 0.009), interleukin 1 (SMD = -1.24, 95% CI -1.56 to -0.91, p < 0.001) and interleukin 6 (SMD = -0.81, 95% CI -1.48 to -0.14, p = 0.02) were significantly decreased after fish oil supplementation; however, high sensitivity C reactive protein, soluble intracellular adhesion molecular 1 and vascular cell adhesion molecular 1 were not significantly affected. Meta-regression and subgroup analysis results suggested the difference in dose of fish oil and follow-up duration might influence the effects of fish oil on tumor necrosis factor α and interleukin 6. Greater reduction of these two markers might be achieved in patients taking fish oil of a higher dose (over 1000 mg/day) or for a longer duration (over 4 months).
CONCLUSIONS: Limited evidence suggests anti-inflammation may be a potential mechanism underlying the beneficial effects of fish oil for chronic heart failure. Further large-scale and adequately powered clinical trials are needed to confirm these effects.
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