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Br J Nutr. 2002 Jan;87 Suppl 1:S59-67.

Regulatory potential of n-3 fatty acids in immunological and inflammatory processes.

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Department of General and Thoracic Surgery, University of Giessen, Germany.


Over the last few years immunonutrition has gained increasing importance. Among other compounds lipids, especially n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, were shown to influence the immune response. The anti-inflammatory effects they exert can be induced by free fatty acids, triglyceride fatty acids, after incorporation into the membrane phopspholipid bilayer or following metabolism to eicosanoids. n-3 Fatty acids influence inflammatory cell activation processes from signal transduction to protein expression even involving effects at the genomic level. n-3 Fatty acid-mediated mechanisms decreased cytokine-induced adhesion molecule expression, thereby reducing inflammatory leucocyte-endothelium interactions and modified lipid mediator synthesis, thus influencing the transendothelial migration of leucocytes and leucocyte trafficking in general. Even the metabolic repertoire of specific immunocompetent cells such as cytokine release or proliferation is modified by n-3 fatty acids. Beyond this they regulate lipid homeostasis shifting the metabolic pathways towards energy supply thus optimizing the function of immune cells. Due to the regulatory impact on different processes of inflammatory and immune cell activation n-3 fatty acids provide positive effects on various states of immune deficiencies and diseases with a hyperinflammatory character, among which selected examples are presented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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