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Omega 3 fatty acids: biological activity and effects on human health.

  • Autori: LA GUARDIA, M.; Giammanco, S.; DI MAJO, D.; Tabacchi, G.; Tripoli, E.; Giammanco, M.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2006
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have an important role in human diet, both for the prevention and the therapy of different pathologies. In this review, a critical evaluation of PUFAs dietary sources and biological functions in human organism has been done. In particular, the efficacy of ω-3 fatty acids in the improvement of the lipidic pattern and in the excitability of myocardium has been analyzed, and therefore their usefulness in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and post-infarction arrhythmias. As PUFAs are precursors of prostaglandins and leucotriens, which are involved in phlogosis and immune response, a diet rich in fish oil reduces the production of PGE2 involved in many phlogosis events. Moreover, an increase in the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) intake leads to a reduction in the production of inflammatory cytokines (interleukin 1, 2, 6 and Tumor Necrosis Factor); so, it is important to use ω-3 in cronic inflammatory diseases, as the rheumathoid arthritis. It seems that ω-3 could prevent the onset of hormon-dependent tumours (i.e. breast and prostatic cancer); in vitro observations, in fact, have shown that the PG of the series 2, derived from ω-6, have a carcinogenic action; instead, the anticancer effect of ω-3 could derive from their effect in antagonizing the formation of such PG; it can be useful, therefore, to increase the dietary ω-3/ ω-6 ratio. Moreover, the effects of ω-3 on the anatomic and functional central nervous system development and of their possible therapeutical use in some psychiatric pathologies were evaluated.