Current Atherosclerosis Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp 485-491

Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cytokines and adhesion molecules

  • Raffaele De CaterinaAffiliated withInstitute of Cardiology, “G. d’Annunzio”, University - Chieti
  • , Rosalinda Madonna
  • , Marika Massaro

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The dietary intake of omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids has emerged, over the past 20 years, as an important way to modify cardiovascular risk. This likely occurs through beneficial effects at all stages in the natural history of vascular disease, from the inception of atherosclerotic lesions, to their growth and acute complications (plaque rupture in most instances), up to protection of myocardium from the consequences of ensuing acute myocardial ischemia. This review specifically focuses on the modulating effects of n-3 fatty acids on biologic events involved in early atherogenesis, including important properties of these natural substances on endothelial expression of adhesion molecules and cytokines, processes collectively denoted as “endothelial activation.” By decreasing the endothelial responsiveness to proinflammatory and proatherogenic stimuli, n-3 fatty acids act on molecular events not targeted by any other drugs or interventions, and thereby complementary to those of already implemented pharmacologic treatments.