The effect of distance running on the fatty acid composition of platelet and erythrocyte membranes has been investigated, together with platelet aggregation and levels of high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDLc), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLc), total cholesterol and triglycerides in runners (n = 11) and healthy age-matched non-running controls (n = 12). Platelet aggregation and fatty acid composition of membrane lipids in both platelets and erythrocytes are similar in both groups with the following exceptions: in platelets docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6 omega 3) is significantly higher in runners; in erythrocytes the fatty acids C20:3 omega 6/C22:1 omega 9 and C22:5 omega 3 are significantly higher in runners. There were no significant differences between the levels of HDLc, LDLc and total cholesterol in runners and controls although triglycerides were significantly lower in runners. Possible beneficial effects of running are probably mediated through effects on serum lipid and lipoprotein concentrations, and probably not due to any antithrombotic effect of platelets.
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