PUFAs: Structures, Metabolism and Functions

Adv Clin Exp Med. 2015 Nov-Dec;24(6):931-41. doi: 10.17219/acem/31243.


Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) include two series of fatty acids: omega-6 and omega-3 series. PUFAs have amphiphatic properties: hydrophilic head and hydrophobic tail. Such structure and other properties of unsaturated fatty acids are responsible for exerting the following biological action: maintaining cell-membrane fluidity, inhib- iting inflammatory processes, decreasing secretion of proinflammatory cytokines by monocytes/macrophages, decreasing susceptibility to ventricular rhythm disorders of the heart, improving functions of vascular endothe- lial cells, inhibiting blood platelet aggregation and decreasing triglyceride synthesis in the liver. In an organism, aracidonic acid (ARA) is converted to prostanoids series 2 (PGE2, PGI2, TXA2) and leukotrienes series 4 (LTB4, LTC4, LTD4) which are endowed with pro-inflammatory potential and are able to induce platelet aggregation and vasoconstriction. The metabolism of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) gives prostanoids series 3 (PGE3, PGI3, TXA3) and leukotrienes series 5 (LTB5, LTC5, LTD5); this group of eicosanoids shows anti-inflammatory, antiplatelet and antiarrhythmic properties.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Signal Transduction
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated