Ann Rheum Dis 67:841-848 doi:10.1136/ard.2007.077156
  • Extended report

A randomised interventional trial of ω-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids on endothelial function and disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus

  1. S A Wright1,2,3,
  2. F M O’Prey1,
  3. M T McHenry2,3,
  4. W J Leahey1,
  5. A B Devine1,
  6. E M Duffy2,4,
  7. D G Johnston1,
  8. M B Finch2,3,
  9. A L Bell2,3,
  10. G E McVeigh1
  1. 1
    Department of Therapeutics and Pharmacology, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
  2. 2
    Lupus Research Group, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
  3. 3
    Department of Rheumatology, Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
  4. 4
    Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, UK
  1. Dr Stephen Wright, Department of Rheumatology, Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast BT9 7JB, Northern Ireland, UK; drsawright{at}
  • Accepted 3 September 2007
  • Published Online First 17 September 2007


Objective: To determine the clinical effect of dietary supplementation with low-dose ω-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids on disease activity and endothelial function in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Methods: A 24-week randomised double-blind placebo-controlled parallel trial of the effect of 3 g of ω-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids on 60 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus was performed. Serial measurements of disease activity using the revised Systemic Lupus Activity Measure (SLAM-R) and British Isles Lupus Assessment Group index of disease activity for systemic lupus erythematosus (BILAG), endothelial function using flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery, oxidative stress using platelet 8-isoprostanes and analysis of platelet membrane fatty acids were taken at baseline, 12 and 24 weeks.

Results: In the fish oil group there was a significant improvement at 24 weeks in SLAM-R (from 9.4 (SD 3.0) to 6.3 (2.5), p<0.001); in BILAG (from 13.6 (6.0) to 6.7 (3.8), p<0.001); in FMD (from 3.0% (−0.5 to 8.2) to 8.9% (1.3 to 16.9), p<0.001) and in platelet 8-isoprostanes (from 177 pg/mg protein (23–387) to 90 pg/mg protein (32–182), p = 0.007).

Conclusions: Low-dose dietary supplementation with ω-3 fish oils in systemic lupus erythematosus not only has a therapeutic effect on disease activity but also improves endothelial function and reduces oxidative stress and may therefore confer cardiovascular benefits.


  • Funding: This study was funded by The Wellcome Trust and Lupus UK.

  • Competing interests: None.