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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Apr 15;23(8):1143-51.

Prolonged n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation ameliorates hepatic steatosis in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a pilot study.

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  • 1Nutrition Center and Gastroenterology Unit, Department of Clinical Pathophysiology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.



Recent studies suggest a role of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha ligands in improving non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in rodents. However, data in humans are still lacking.


To evaluate the efficacy of prolonged PUFA supplementation in patients with NAFLD.


Fifty-six patients with NAFLD were enrolled. Among the overall eligible patients, 42 assumed n-3 PUFA 1-g capsule daily for 12 months, whereas 14 refused the treatment and were analysed as controls. All patients underwent haematochemical and ultrasound follow-up.


Polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation significantly decreased serum aspartate transaminase (P = 0.003), alanine transaminase (P = 0.002), gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (P = 0.03), triglycerides (P = 0.02) and fasting glucose (P = 0.02) in comparison with controls. Circulating arachidonate and n-6/n-3 fatty acid ratio was reduced (P = 0.0002, and P = 0.0001 respectively) in treated patients. Moreover, ultrasonography demonstrated improvement of liver echotexture after PUFA (P = 0.0001), and increase of Doppler perfusion index (P = 0.001), whereas no significant changes occurred in controls.


Supplementation with n-3 PUFA improves biochemical, ultrasonographic and haemodynamic features of liver steatosis. Our study supports the efficacy of n-3 PUFA as a new therapeutic approach in the treatment of NAFLD.

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