Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce atherosclerosis: Study

Solna: According to a new study, omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in preventing inflammation in blood vessels and reducing atherosclerosis.

The research has been published in the ‘The Journal of Clinical Investigation’.

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death globally and a serious public health problem. Atherosclerosis is associated with chronic inflammation in the blood vessels. Inflammation is normally controlled by stop signals called resolvins, which switch off the inflammation and stimulate tissue healing and repair through a process called resolution of inflammation. Resolvins are formed from omega-3 fatty acids and bind to and activate a receptor called GPR32.

“We’ve found that this receptor is dysregulated in atherosclerosis, indicating a disruption in the body’s natural healing processes,” said the study’s first author Hildur Arnardottir, assistant professor at the Department of Medicine, Solna, Karolinska Institutet.

“This discovery can pave the way for completely new strategies for treating and preventing atherosclerosis by arresting inflammation in the blood vessels, while also turning on the body’s healing processes with the help of omega-3 fatty acids, for example,” Arnardottir added.

The new study showed that signalling via the receptor actively stopped inflammation in atherosclerotic blood vessels and stimulated healing. The researchers have studied atherosclerotic plaque and created a new experimental model with an over-expressed GPR32 receptor. The GPR32 receptor counteracted atherosclerosis and inflammation in the blood vessels, and resolvins that activate GPR32 enhanced the effect.

“We’ll now be studying the mechanisms behind the failed management of inflammation in the blood vessels and how omega-3 mediated stop signals can be used to treat atherosclerosis,” said the study’s last author Magnus Back, senior consultant cardiologist and professor at the Department of Medicine, Solna, Karolinska Institutet.

The study was mainly financed by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria’s Foundation of Freemasons and Region Stockholm. There are no reported conflicts of interest.