Although chronic fish oil intervention had been shown to have a positive impact on vascular reactivity, very little is known about their acute effects during the postprandial phase. Our aim was to examine the impact of a fish oil-enriched test meal on postprandial vascular reactivity in healthy younger ( < 50 years) v. older ( ≥ 50 years) men. Vascular reactivity was measured at baseline (0 h), 2 and 4 h after the meal by laser Doppler iontophoresis and blood samples taken at 0 and 4 h for the measurement of plasma lipids, total nitrite, glucose and insulin. Acetylcholine- (ACh, endothelial-dependent vasodilator) and sodium nitroprusside (SNP, endothelial-independent vasodilator)-induced reactivities were greater at 4 h than at baseline or 2 h in the younger men (P < 0·04). These changes were not observed in the older men. Comparison of the male groups revealed significantly greater responses to ACh (P = 0·006) and SNP (P = 0·05) at 4 h in the younger compared with the older males. Postprandial NEFA concentrations were also greater at 4 h in the younger compared with the older men (P = 0·005), with no differences observed for any of the other analytes. Multiple regression analysis revealed age to be the most significant predictor of both ACh and SNP induced reactivity 4 h after the meal. In conclusion, the ingestion of a meal enriched in fish oil fatty acids was shown to improve postprandial vascular reactivity at 4 h in our younger men, with little benefit evident in our older men.
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