After more than 25 years of published investigation, including randomized controlled trials, the role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the treatment of kidney disease remains unclear. In vitro and in vivo experimental studies support the efficacy of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on inflammatory pathways involved with the progression of kidney disease. Clinical investigations have focused predominantly on immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy. More recently, lupus nephritis, polycystic kidney disease, and other glomerular diseases have been investigated. Clinical trials have shown conflicting results for the efficacy of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in IgA nephropathy, which may relate to varying doses, proportions of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, duration of therapy, and sample size of the study populations. Meta-analyses of clinical trials using omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in IgA nephropathy have been limited by the quality of available studies. However, guidelines suggest that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids should be considered in progressive IgA nephropathy. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids decrease blood pressure, a known accelerant of kidney disease progression. Well-designed, adequately powered, randomized, controlled clinical trials are required to further investigate the potential benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on the progression of kidney disease and patient survival.
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