Research Article| Volume 240, ISSUE 2, P520-525, June 2015

Effects of niacin and omega-3 fatty acids on the apolipoproteins in overweight patients with elevated triglycerides and reduced HDL cholesterol


      • Niacin plus omega-3 therapy was tested in overweight dyslipidemic patients.
      • This combination is more potent in normalizing apolipoprotein parameters.
      • These changes are consistent with effects of this combination on plasma lipids.
      • Combo therapy normalized apoC3 glycosylation.



      Prescription omega-3 acid ethyl esters (P-OM3) and extended release niacin (ERN) both have beneficial effects on plasma lipids and lipoproteins. The purpose of this study was to describe the effects of mono- and combination (Combo) therapy of these agents in patients with the metabolic syndrome.


      Very low density (VLDL), intermediate/low density (IDL/LDL, hereafter LDL), and high density lipoproteins (HDL) were isolated from 56 overweight patients with elevated triglyceride/HDL-C ratios at baseline and after 16 weeks of treatment with placebo, ERN (2g/day), P-OM3 (4g/day), or Combo and then analyzed by quantitative electrophoresis for apolipoproteins (apo) A1, A2, B, C2, C3 and E. Total plasma concentrations and the ratios of each apo with apoB (in VLDL and LDL) and with apoA1 (in HDL) were calculated. An apoC3 glycosylation index (a ratio between di- and mono-sialylated isoforms) was also determined in plasma and in each lipoprotein fraction.


      ERN reduced plasma apoB (−11%, p < 0.05). Combo increased LDL apoE/apoB ratio (64%, p < 0.01) and LDL apoA1/apoB (91%, p < 0.05). ERN increased the apoC3 glycosylation index only in HDL (37%, p < 0.05), whereas P-OM3 and Combo increased the index in whole plasma (48% and 49%, respectively, p < 0.05 for both) and in every lipoprotein class (VLDL: 26%, p < 0.01 and 26%, p < 0.05; LDL: 55%, p < 0.01 and 61%, p < 0.01; HDL: 43%, p < 0.001 and 44%, p < 0.001, respectively). All findings were significant after adjustment for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), smoking, medications, and baseline apo value.


      ERN produced a beneficial reduction in plasma apoB. The enrichment of LDL with apoE and apoA1 was unique to the Combo group and might be beneficial owing to the atheroprotective properties of apoE and HDL2 (a likely source of apoA1 in LDL fraction). The effect of therapies on the apoC3 glycosylation index is a novel finding, the implications of which will require further study.


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