Omega-3-rich fish oil beneficially affects gene expression,
says a new nutrigenomic study that enhances our understanding
of the health benefits of omega-3.
The study is said to be the first to show that DHA
(docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) can
affect gene expression to a more anti-atherogenic and anti-inflammatory
Lead researcher Lydia Afman told NutraIngredients: The
most exciting finding of this study is the demonstration of
less pro-inflammatory gene expression profiles in peripheral
blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) after a 6 months fish oil
intervention in a healthy elderly population.
Because PBMCs are immune cells, and play a vital role in
inflammation and the development of cardiovascular diseases,
the results may go some way to explaining the cardio-protective
effects of omega-3 fatty acids.
In addition to a large body of science linking DHA and EPA
to improved cardiovascular health, the omega-3 fatty acids
have also been linked to reduced risks of certain cancers,
good development of a baby during pregnancy, improved joint
health, and improved behaviour and mood
Results of the nutrigenomics study are published in the American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Dr Afman and her co-workers from the Nutrition, Metabolism
and Genomics Group at Wageningen University recruited 111
healthy Dutch elderly subjects and randomly assigned them
to one of three groups: To consume 1.8 or 0.4 g of EPA plus
DHA every day (Lipid Nutrition/Loders Croklaan), or to consume
4.0 grams of high-oleic acid sunflower oil per day, for six
Microarray analysis of gene expression in PBMCs revealed
that that high EPA plus DHA supplement resulted in altered
gene expression of 1040 genes, while the sunflower oil supplement
altered gene expression of 298 genes.
Of these genes, 140 were overlapping between the groups,
which resulted in 900 uniquely changed genes in the EPA plus
DHA group, said the researchers.
Furthermore, the altered genes were involved in inflammatory-
and atherogenic-related pathways, said the researchers.
These results are the first to show that intake of
EPA plus DHA for 26 weeks can alter the gene expression profiles
of PBMCs to a more anti-inflammatory and anti-atherogenic
status, conclyuded the researchers.
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is a major
risk factor for CVD.
Implications for Nutrigenomics
Dr Afman told this website: PBMC gene expression profiles
are known to be quite constant within persons but vary between
persons in time. Therefore, it is interesting to observe that
PBMCs gene expression profiles are susceptible to nutritional
changes and represent effects that maybe difficult or even
impossible to measure using other techniques.
PBMC gene expression profiles are therefore promising
candidates to be used as biomarkers for nutritional status
or systemic metabolic health or - capacity.
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition