Researchers at Mochida Pharma. in Japan have gone the extra mile in trying to determine what causes LDL-C elevation, is it DHA or EPA or both?
Despite established anti-atherogenic action, previous reports have shown that fish oils or n-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) increase plasma LDL-C in animals and humans. However, which component of n-3 PUFAs and what mechanisms contribute to this increase are unclear. We investigated the effects of the major components of n-3 PUFA, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), on plasma LDL-C in high fat diet-fed hamsters. While LDL-C increased significantly with n-3 PUFA oil and DHA, EPA had no effect on LDL-C. Interestingly, a positive correlation was found between plasma cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP) activity and LDL-C. Only DHA increased plasma CETP activity and significantly decreased LDL receptor expression in the liver. Our data suggest that DHA, not EPA, is a major factor in the LDL-C increasing effect of n-3 PUFA oil. These differential effects on LDL-C may arise from differences in plasma CETP activity and LDL receptor expression.
So, based on this relatively straight forward study, it does appear that DHA is the sole cause for raising LDL-C and EPA is basically LDL-C neutral.
Disclosure: I am long AMRN.