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Transplantation. 1995 Feb 15;59(3):352-6.

Delayed omega-3 fatty acid supplements in renal transplantation. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

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Division of Nephrology, Hypertension and Clinical Pharmacology, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland 97201.


An earlier reported trial suggests that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements at 6 g/day with administration commencing at the time of engraftment may reduce acute CsA renal dysfunction. When started at the time of renal transplant, there are improvements in renal hemodynamics and blood pressure, and a decrease in rejection episodes. To examine the effect of later introduction of omega-3 fatty acids, 133 cadaver renal transplant recipients received CsA, prednisone, and AZA for 16 weeks (period 1). If patients were stable without rejection or infection activity, they were randomized to 9 g of eicosapentanoic acid (EPA), 18 g of EPA, 9 g of corn oil, or 18 g of corn oil in 1-g capsules as supplements. Glomerular filtration rate, renal blood flow, number of rejection episodes, blood pressure, and episodes of CsA nephrotoxicity were followed for 26 weeks in a double-blind manner (period 2). Ninety patients were evaluable and completed the protocol. There were 50 corn oil placebo patients, 22 low dose EPA patients, and 18 high dose EPA patients. In period 1, there were 27 rejection episodes in 21 patients without differences among subsequent treatment groups. In period 2, there were 13 rejection episodes in 4 patients. No patient with an EPA level in plasma statistically higher than placebo had a rejection episode. All allografts functioned for the entire 6 months with none lost to rejection. All 5 episodes of acute CsA nephrotoxicity occurred in placebo-treated patients without differences in whole blood CsA among toxic patients, other placebo patients, and EPA-treated recipients. At the end of the study, there were no differences in glomerular filtration rate, renal blood flow, or creatinine clearance among groups. Diastolic blood pressure fell by 9 mmHg during period 2 in high dose fish oil recipients and by 10 mmHg in low dose fish oil recipients (P < 0.05), while it rose by 2 mmHg in placebo patients. No serious adverse effects of EPA supplements were noted, although compliance based on plasma EPA was erratic. Based on our experience and that in the literature, administration of omega-3 fatty acids for purposes of kidney protection would seem to be most useful when started early after surgery. Late administration in our study was associated with minor clinical benefits.

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