Inflammatory bowel disease: can omega-3 fatty acids really help?

Authors Sandra Maria Barbalho, Ricardo de Alvares Goulart, Karina Quesada, Marcelo Dib Bechara, Antonely de Cássio Alves de Carvalho.


Adjuvants to the traditional therapy of infl ammatory bowel disease (IBD) have been studied to enhance the effi cacy of the treatment and improve patients' quality of life. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω3FA) have been associated with attenuation of the inflammatory responses in IBD, possibly acting as substrates for anti-inflammatory eicosanoid production, similar to prostaglandins and leukotrienes. ω3FA also act as substrates for the synthesis of resolvins, maresins and protectins, indispensable in resolving infl ammation processes. These acids may infl uence the development or course of IBD by: reducing oxidative stress, production of tumor necrosis factor-α and proinfl ammatory cytokines; working as chemopreventive agents; and decreasing the expression of adhesion molecules. There are numerous controversies in the literature on the eff ects of ω3FA in the prevention or treatment of IBD, but their eff ects in reducing infl ammation is incontestable. Th erefore, more studies are warranted to elucidate the pathophysiological mechanisms and establish the recommended daily intake to prevent or induce remission in IBD patients.

Keywords Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids

Ann Gastroenterol 2016; 29 (1): 37-43

Review Article