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BACKGROUND: Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are proposed to play a role in the development of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and are considered emerging markers of CVDs. N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are abundant in oily fish and fish oil and are reported to reduce CVD risk, but there has been little research to date examining the effects of n-3 PUFAs on the generation and function of EVs. OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to investigate the effects of fish oil supplementation on the number, generation and function of EVs in subjects with moderate risk of CVDs. METHODS: A total of 40 participants with moderate risk of CVDs were supplemented with capsules containing either fish oil (1.9 g/d n-3 PUFAs) or control oil (high-oleic safflower oil) for 12 weeks in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover intervention study. The effects of fish oil supplementation on conventional CVD and thrombogenic risk markers were measured, along with the number and fatty acid composition of circulating and platelet-derived EVs (PDEVs). PDEVs proteome profiles were evaluated, and their impact on coagulation was assessed using assays including fibrin clot formation, thrombin generation, fibrinolysis and ex vivo thrombus formation. RESULTS: N-3 PUFAs decreased the numbers of circulating EVs by 27%, doubled their n-3 PUFA content and reduced their capacity to support thrombin generation by >20% in subjects at moderate risk of CVDs. EVs derived from n-3 PUFA-enriched platelets in vitro also resulted in lower thrombin generation, but did not alter thrombus formation in a whole blood ex vivo assay. CONCLUSIONS: Dietary n-3 PUFAs alter the number, composition and function of EVs, reducing their coagulatory activity. This study provides clear evidence that EVs support thrombin generation and that this EV-dependent thrombin generation is reduced by n-3 PUFAs, which has implications for prevention and treatment of thrombosis. REGISTRATION: URL:; Unique identifier: NCT03203512.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Clin Nutr

Publication Date



Cardiovascular disease, coagulation, extracellular vesicles, fish oil, platelet-derived extracellular vesicles, thrombosis