Functions of omega-3 fatty acids and FFA4 (GPR120) in macrophages

Eur J Pharmacol. 2016 Aug 15:785:36-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2015.03.094. Epub 2015 May 15.


Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), which are plentiful in fish oil, have been known for decades to be beneficial functional nutrients in different disease states. GPR120 is a G protein-coupled receptor for long-chain unsaturated fatty acids, including n-3 PUFAs, and was recently renamed free fatty acid receptor 4 (FFA4). Studies on FFA4-deficient mice and the development of specific pharmacological tools have started to unravel the functions of FFA4 associated with the actions of n-3 PUFAs in obesity, type 2 diabetes, and inflammation-related diseases. Here, the state of the art regarding the roles and functions of FFA4 and n-3 PUFA in macrophages are reviewed from the pharmacological perspective. In particular, the functions of n-3 PUFA on the anti-inflammatory M2 phenotypes of macrophages in different organs, such as, adipose tissues and liver, are discussed along with future research directions.

Keywords: Anti-inflammation; FFA4; GPR120; Macrophage; Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Obesity / immunology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled