Study Reviews

EPA/DHA supplementation could be beneficial in obese children with high blood pressure

  • 12/13/2018

Despite the fact child obesity has short- and long-term consequences (including haemodynamic effects such as high blood pressure), its prevalence has increased in recent years. Haemodynamic control involves factors such as body mass index and dietary habits, especially lipid intake. Various studies and meta-analyses have shown a possible beneficial effect of supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids in controlling high blood pressure, partly because they improve vascular function (arterial rigidity and endothelial function), suggesting a potential reduction effect on high blood pressure.

Both arachidonic acid (AA) and eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (EPA and DHA, respectively) can be metabolised by the cytochrome P-450 (CYP450) pathway into lipid mediators that can have profound effects on controlling high blood pressure. Bonafini, et al. (2018) studied these effects in overweight and obese children and observed that omega-3 fatty acid-derived metabolites are beneficially associated with blood pressure and vascular structure/function in overweight and obese children with high blood pressure.

EPA in the red cell membrane correlated inversely to blood pressure measurement during doctor’s visits and carotid intima-media thickness in overweight and obese children with high blood pressure. In these children, the correlation between EPA and its metabolites was stronger than in children with normal blood pressure. DHA was not associated with blood pressure or the principal vascular characteristics.

Interesting correlations were found between EPA and DHA and their corresponding metabolites via CYP450-epoxyoxygenase, which means that consuming these omega-3 fatty acids leads to better production of their metabolites. But the metabolic steps appear to differ between children with high and normal blood pressure. The association between precursors and their products, especially in the case of EPA, is stronger in overweight and obese children with arterial hypertension. The authors concluded that production of EPA metabolites via CYP450-epoxygenase is higher in overweight and obese children with high blood pressure, with the supposedly favourable cardiovascular effects. This production would be a compensation mechanism for the deterioration in vasodilatation due to the classic pathways (e.g. nitric oxide) in subjects with high blood pressure.

Overall, these data suggest that some lipid mediators could exert specific actions on haemodynamic control in overweight and obese children, which appears to differ between high and normal blood pressure. Future studies should establish whether supplementation with EPA/DHA could be beneficial to overweight and obese children with high blood pressure.