British Journal of Nutrition

Short Communication

The impact of age on the postprandial vascular response to a fish oil-enriched meal

Kim G. Jacksona1 c1, Christopher K. Armaha1, Izzy Domana1, Lewis Jamesa1, Farah Cheghania1 and Anne M. Minihanea1

a1 Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, Department of Food Biosciences, University of Reading, PO Box 226, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AP, UK


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.

(Received November 19 2008)

(Revised May 20 2009)

(Accepted May 21 2009)

(Online publication June 29 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Kim G. Jackson, fax +44 118 931 0080, email


Abbreviations: ACh, acetylcholine; AUC, area under the curve; SNP, sodium nitroprusside