Anti-inflammatory Effects of Omega 3 Fatty Acid in Fish Oil Linked to Lowering of Prostaglandin

Armen Hareyan's picture
Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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

Share this content.

If you liked this article and think it may help your friends, consider sharing or tweeting it to your followers.
Advertisement