n-3 fatty acids and gene expression

Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jun;83(6 Suppl):1520S-1525S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/83.6.1520S.


Accumulating evidence in both humans and animal models clearly indicates that a group of very-long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, the n-3 fatty acids (or omega-3), have distinct and important bioactive properties compared with other groups of fatty acids. n-3 Fatty acids are known to reduce many risk factors associated with several diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer. The mechanisms whereby n-3 fatty acids affect gene expression are complex and involve multiple processes. As examples, n-3 fatty acids regulate 2 groups of transcription factors, such as sterol-regulatory-element binding proteins and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, that are critical for modulating the expression of genes controlling both systemic and tissue-specific lipid homeostasis. Modulation of specific genes by n-3 fatty acids and cross-talk between these genes are responsible for many effects of n-3 fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors / genetics
  • Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors
  • Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors