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Am J Cardiol. 2006 Aug 21;98(4A):27i-33i. Epub 2006 May 26.

Mechanisms for the hypotriglyceridemic effect of marine omega-3 fatty acids.

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Radiant Research and Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


A mechanism to explain the hypotriglyceridemic effects of marine omega-3 fatty acids in humans has not been clarified. A working model can be developed at the gene transcriptional level, which involves >or=4 metabolic nuclear receptors. These include liver X receptor, hepatocyte nuclear factor-4alpha (HNF-4alpha), farnesol X receptor, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs). Each of these receptors is regulated by sterol receptor element binding protein-1c (SREBP-1c), the main genetic switch controlling lipogenesis. Omega-3 fatty acids elicit hypotriglyceridemic effects by coordinately suppressing hepatic lipogenesis through reducing levels of SREBP-1c, upregulating fatty oxidation in the liver and skeletal muscle through PPAR activation, and enhancing flux of glucose to glycogen through downregulation of HNF-4alpha. The net result is the repartitioning of metabolic fuel from triglyceride storage toward oxidation, thereby reducing the substrate available for very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) synthesis. By simultaneously downregulating genes encoding proteins that stimulate lipid synthesis and upregulating genes encoding proteins that stimulate fatty acid oxidation, omega-3 fatty acids are more potent hypotriglyceridemic agents than are omega-6 fatty acids, on a carbon-for-carbon basis. Additionally, peroxidation of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce VLDL secretion through stimulating apolipoprotein B degradation. Omega-3 fatty acids may act by enhancing postprandial chylomicron clearance through reduced VLDL secretion and by directly stimulating lipoprotein lipase activity. These combined effects support the use of omega-3 fatty acids as a valuable clinical tool for the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia.

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