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Omega-3 fatty acids may have antioxidant potential

Published on

09 July 2012

The omega­3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, commonly referred to as EPA and DHA, may help to generate an optimal balance of the oxidative status by gene regulation, suggests a new German study.

In the study, 10 men with normal blood lipid levels and 10 men with abnormal lipid levels received a 2.7 g daily supplement of fish oil, containing 1.56 g of EPA and 1.14 g of DHA, for 12 weeks (1). An analysis of gene expression showed that both groups displayed an increased expression of antioxidative enzymes and a decreased expression of pro- oxidative enzymes. These effects were particularly noteworthy in participants with abnormal high blood lipid concentrations.

The researchers concluded that these omega­-3 fatty acids may have antioxidative potential. It appears that EPA and DHA not only increase the gene expression of antioxidative enzymes, but rather induce a specific interplay of differential regulations to generate an optimal balance of the oxidative status. The fact that more significant effects were seen in people with elevated blood lipids, and thus at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, indicates that this benefit of omega­-3 fatty acids may be greater in people with increased oxidative stress.


  1. Schmidt S. et al. Transcriptome-based identification of antioxidative gene expression after fish oil supplementation in normo- and dyslipidemic men. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2012; 9:45.

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