Anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Nov 2;57(16):3421-3429. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1126549.


A lipid excess produces a systemic inflammation process due to tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein synthesis. Simultaneously, this fat excess promotes the appearance of insulin resistance. All this contributes to the development of atherosclerosis and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). On the other hand, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), especially eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (omega 3), and arachidonic acid (omega 6) have shown anti-inflammatory properties. Lately, an inverse relationship between omega-3 fatty acids, inflammation, obesity and CVDs has been demonstrated. To check fatty acids effect, the levels of some inflammation biomarkers have been analyzed. Leptin, adiponectin and resistin represent a group of hormones associated with the development of CVDs, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance and are modified in obese/overweight people comparing to normal weight people. Omega-3 PUFAs have been shown to decrease the production of inflammatory mediators, having a positive effect in obesity and diabetes mellitus type-2. Moreover, they significantly decrease the appearance of CVD risk factors. Regarding omega-6 PUFA, there is controversy whether their effects are pro- or anti-inflammatory. The aim of this manuscript is to provide a comprehensive overview about the role of omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs in CVDs and metabolic syndrome.

Keywords: Omega-3 PUFA; cardiovascular disease; inflammation; obesity and type-2 Diabetes Mellitus; omega-6 PUFA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6