Platelet Redox Balance in Diabetic Patients With Hypertension Improved by n-3 Fatty Acids

  1. Gary E. McVeigh, FRCP, MD, PHD
  1. Centre for Vision and Vascular Sciences, Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast, U.K.
  1. Corresponding author: Denise M. McDonald, d.mcdonald{at}


OBJECTIVE Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, largely as a result of defective production of cardioprotective nitric oxide and a concomitant rise in oxidative stress. Dietary interventions that could reverse this trend would be extremely beneficial. Here we investigated whether dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) supplementation positively affected platelet nitroso-redox imbalance.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS We randomized hypertensive T2DM patients (T2DM HT; n = 22) and age-and-sex matched hypertensive study participants without diabetes (HT alone; n = 23) in a double-blind, crossover fashion to receive 8 weeks of n-3 PUFAs (1.8 g eicosapentaenoic acid and 1.5 g docosahexaenoic acid) or identical olive oil capsules (placebo), with an intervening 8-week washout period. Platelet nitrite and superoxide were measured and compared before and after treatment; 8-isoprostane was determined by ELISA and subcellular compartmentalization of the NAD(P)H oxidase subunit p47-phox examined by Western blotting.

RESULTS The n-3 PUFA supplementation reduced 8-isoprostane and superoxide levels in platelets from T2DM HT, but not HT alone, participants, without effect on nitrite production. This coincided with a significant decrease in p47-phox membrane localization and a similar reduction in superoxide to that achieved with apocynin. At baseline, a subcohort of T2DM HT and HT alone participants showed evidence of nitric oxide synthase (NOS)–derived superoxide production, indicating defective enzymatic activity. This was reversed significantly in T2DM HT participants after treatment, demonstrating improved NOS function.

CONCLUSIONS Our finding that n-3 PUFAs diminish platelet superoxide production in T2DM HT patients in vivo suggests a therapeutic role for these agents in reducing the vascular-derived oxidative stress associated with diabetes.

  • Received February 12, 2012.
  • Accepted September 14, 2012.

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  1. Diabetes Care vol. 36 no. 4 998-1005
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