The role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in improving the immune system : with a focus on inflammation and Multiple sclerosis

University essay from SLU/Department of Molecular Sciences

Abstract: Inflammation is part of the body’s responses to infections and injuries, but an improper inflammatory response together with the production of proinflammatory molecules can cause serious diseases. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that affects the central nervous system. The disease is the primary cause of disability among young adults aged between 20-40 years. The reason of MS is unknown and no treatment can fully cure the outcomes of it. There are disease-modifying drugs used to slow down the progression of MS. Such drugs are not always effective, are of high cost and have side effects. Therefore, it can be discussed whether a complementary alternative in the form of a natural source may be more efficient in treating MS than the used drugs. An example of one such natural source is fish due to the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that exist in fish and fish oil. The aim of this thesis was to make a review by extracting information from available literature as well as published scientific articles about the link between the dietary intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (particularly from fish) and an enhanced immune system. Another purpose was to shed light on the role such fatty acids play in decreasing inflammation and lowering the risk of MS and treating the outcomes of it. There are not so many clinical trials involving the research about if omega-3 fatty acid intake helps to reduce the risk and treat the outcomes of MS. Most of the available studies state that omega-3 fatty acid intake improve the overall quality of life and boost the immune system. Studies have proven that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the expression and production of proinflammatory molecules. Several studies have also shown that the high intake of omega-3 fatty acids help to treat the outcomes of MS such as the physical disability, fatigue, and depression. Further information about the role of nutrigenomics in the immune system functionality is needed in order to know if there is a direct link between MS and the intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

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