Epidemiologic studies suggest that high dietary intake of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a precursor of the trienoic prostaglandins, is associated with a low incidence and reduced extent of myocardial infarction. Vascular reactivity of isolated aortic strips from rats maintained for 3 weeks on a control diet or on a diet supplemented with menhaden fish oil (17% EPA) was examined with norepinephrine, sodium arachidonate, KCl, PGF2α and nitroprusside. Aortic strips from rats fed the fish oil diet were significantly less responsive to the contractile effects of norepinephrine and arachidonate compared to those from control diet rats. Treatment of aortic strips with indomethacin decreased responsiveness to norepinephrine. The magnitude of the decrease was greater in control rats resulting in a similar vascular response between the 2 groups after blockade. Contractions to arachidonate were abolished by indomethacin. There were no differences in vascular responses to KCl, PGF2α and nitroprusside in aortic strips from control diet rats and those from the fish oil diet rats. Aortic strips from the fish oil diet rats contained more EPA than those from the control diet rats. Thus, the contractile effect of norepinephrine in isolated rat aortic strips is normally augmented by intrinsic prostaglandins, and this augmentation is diminished by dietary intake of EPA.
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