Effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in subjects with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Dig Liver Dis. 2008 Mar;40(3):194-9. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2007.10.003. Epub 2007 Dec 4.


Background: Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3 levels are decreased in the hepatic tissue of patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are negative regulators of hepatic lipogenesis and attenuate the inflammatory response in mice.

Aim: To investigate whether polyunsaturated fatty acid may be effective in the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Methods: Forty patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease were randomized into two groups for treatment of 6 months duration. Group DP (n=20) received an AHA recommended diet and polyunsaturated fatty acid 2g/day; Group D (n=20) received only the AHA regular diet. Outcome measurements were fatty liver assessed by abdominal ultrasound, liver aminotransferase and tumour necrosis factor-alpha serum levels, and insulin resistance assessed by HOMA(IR).

Results: After 6 months of treatment, the DP group displayed a decrease in alanine aminotransferase levels (p<0.01), as well as in triglyceride levels (p<0.01), serum tumour necrosis factor-alpha levels (p<0.05) and in HOMA(IR) (p<0.05). In the D group, no significant modification was observed. In the DP group, complete fatty liver regression was observed in 33.4% of the patients, and an overall reduction in 50%. In contrast, no patient achieved complete regression in the D group, whereas some amount of reduction occurred in 27.7% of the patients; the remaining 72.2% did not change.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that alanine aminotransferase, triglyceride and serum tumour necrosis factor-alpha levels, as well as fatty liver improved after polyunsaturated fatty acid administration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Fatty Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Fatty Liver / diet therapy*
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Lipogenesis / drug effects
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Transaminases / metabolism
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood
  • Ultrasonography


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Transaminases