Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2013 (Jan); 88 (1): 97–103
Orr SK, Trépanier MO, Bazinet RP.
Department of Nutritional Sciences,
Faculty of Medicine,
University of Toronto,
Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3E2.
Neuroinflammation is present in the majority of acute and chronic neurological disorders. Excess or prolonged inflammation in the brain is thought to exacerbate neuronal damage and loss. Identifying modulators of neuroinflammation is an active area of study since it may lead to novel therapies. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) are anti-inflammatory in many non-neural tissues; their role in neuroinflammation is less studied. This review summarizes the relationship between n-3 PUFA and brain inflammation in animal models of brain injury and aging. Evidence by and large shows protective effects of n-3 PUFA in models of sickness behavior, stroke, aging, depression, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and cytokine- and irradiation-induced cognitive impairments. However, rigorous studies that test the direct effects of n-3 PUFA in neuroinflammation in vivo are lacking. Future research in this area is necessary to determine if, and if so which, n-3 PUFA directly target brain inflammatory pathways. n-3 PUFA bioactive metabolites may provide novel therapeutic targets for neurological disorders with a neuroinflammatory component.