Anti-inflammatory Effects of Omega 3 Fatty Acid in Fish Oil Linked to Lowering of Prostaglandin
Dietary fish oil
Omega 3 fatty acids in dietary fish oil are reported to have anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombogenic and anti-arrhythmic effects in humans, but the biochemical basis for these beneficial health effects is not well understood. Now a University of Michigan biochemist reports that fish oil significantly diminishes the production and effectiveness of various prostaglandins, naturally occurring hormone-like substances that can accentuate inflammation and thrombosis.
Dr. William L. Smith described his findings on April 4 at Experimental Biology 2006 in San Francisco. His presentation was part of the scientific program of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).
Dietary fish oil causes its prostaglandin-lowering effects through three different mechanisms, says Dr. Smith.
First, the much fewer prostaglandins are made from omega 3 fatty acids as compared to the other class of fatty acids in the body, the omega 6 family of fatty acids that originate in the diet from leafy vegetables and other plant sources.
Second, the omega 3 fatty acids compete with omega 6 fatty acids for the same binding site on the COX 1 enzyme that converts the omega 6 fatty acids to prostaglandin (which is why the COX 1 enzyme and its COX 2 cousin are the targets of anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen). The more omega 3 fatty acids present to block the binding sites, the fewer omega 6 fatty acids are able to be converted to prostaglandin.
Third, although omega 3 fatty acids also are converted to prostaglandins, the prostaglandins formed from omega 3 are generally 2 to 50 times less active than those formed from the omega 6 fatty acids from dietary plants.
The biochemical basis of other benefits of dietary fish oil