July 25, 2008

Mysterious Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fish body oil supplements affect the healing of wounds in an unexpected way, U.S. researchers say.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils are widely considered to benefit cardiovascular health and other diseases related to chronic inflammation because of their anti-inflammatory properties. But insufficient inflammation during the initial stage of wound healing may delay the advancement of later stages

Blister wounds on the arms of 15 people taking fish oil supplements as a source of omega-3 fatty acids were different from those on the 15 people with blisters taking a placebo. Proteins associated with inflammation -- expected to be lower in the blisters in people taking fish body oils -- were actually higher.

That finding was hard to explain, lead author Jodi McDaniel of Ohio State University in Columbus says in a statement. These proteins may have other functions that we don't yet fully understand. And our results also suggested there could be a difference between men and women in the amount of inflammatory proteins that are produced, because on average, women had lower levels of one of the proteins.

The research is published in the journal Wound Repair and Regeneration.