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

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

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Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Marília and Food Technology School (FATEC) (Sandra Maria Barbalho).
Department of Gastroenteology, University Hospital, UNIMAR (Ricardo de Alvares Goulart).
Department of Nutrition, School of Medicine, University of Marília (Karina Quesada).
Department of Biochemistry and Genetics, School of Medicine, University of Marília (Marcelo Dib Bechara).
Department of Diagnostic Center in Gastroenterology (Antonely de Cássio Alves de Carvalho), Brazil.


Adjuvants to the traditional therapy of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have been studied to enhance the efficacy 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 inflammation processes. These acids may influence the development or course of IBD by: reducing oxidative stress, production of tumor necrosis factor-α and proinflammatory cytokines; working as chemopreventive agents; and decreasing the expression of adhesion molecules. There are numerous controversies in the literature on the effects of ω3FA in the prevention or treatment of IBD, but their effects in reducing inflammation is incontestable. Therefore, more studies are warranted to elucidate the pathophysiological mechanisms and establish the recommended daily intake to prevent or induce remission in IBD patients.


Crohn’s disease; Ulcerative colitis; omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids


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