Mechanisms underlying the cardioprotective effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids

J Nutr Biochem. 2010 Apr 9

Adkins Y, Kelley DS.

Common omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) are docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in the form of fish oils and alpha linolenic acid from flaxseed oil. Epidemiological studies have suggested the benefits of n-3 PUFA on cardiovascular health. Intervention studies confirmed that the intake of n-3 PUFA provided benefits for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Evidence from cellular and molecular research studies show that the cardioprotective effects of n-3 PUFA result from a synergism between multiple, intricate mechanisms that involve antiinflammation, proresolving lipid mediators, modulation of cardiac ion channels, reduction of triglycerides, influence on membrane microdomains and downstream cell signaling pathways and antithrombotic and antiarrhythmic effects. n-3 PUFAs inhibit inflammatory signaling pathways (nuclear factor-kappa B activity) and down-regulate fatty acid (FA) synthesis gene expression (sterol regulatory element binding protein-1c) and up-regulate gene expression involved in FA oxidation (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha). The aim of this review is to examine the different mechanisms by which n-3 PUFA exert its beneficial effects against cardiovascular disease.