Effect of Marine-Derived n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Major Eicosanoids: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis From 18 Randomized Controlled Trials

PLoS One. 2016 Jan 25;11(1):e0147351. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0147351. eCollection 2016.


Background: Marine-derived n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) may have a beneficial effect on inflammation via lowering pro-inflammatory eicosanoid concentrations. We aimed to assess the effect of marine-derived n-3 PUFA on prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), thromboxane B2 (TXB2), and leukotriene B4 (LTB4) through systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Method and findings: A structured search strategy on PubMed, Web of Science and Cochrane up to November 2015 was undertaken in this meta-analysis. Standard mean difference was used to calculate the effect size of marine-derived n-3 PUFA on PGE2, TXB2 and LTB4 in a random-effect model. A total of 18 RCTs with 826 subjects were included in this systematic review and meta-analysis. Supplementation of marine-derived n-3 PUFA significantly decreased concentrations of TXB2 in serum/plasma in subjects with high risk of cardiovascular diseases (SMD:-1.26; 95% CI: -1.65, -0.86) and LTB4 in neutrophils in unhealthy subjects (subjects with non-autoimmune chronic diseases or auto-immune diseases) (SMD:-0.59: 95% CI: -1.02, -0.16). Subgroup analyses showed a significant reduction of LTB4 in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (SMD: -0.83; 95% CI: -1.37, -0.29), but not in non-autoimmune chronic disease patients (SMD: -0.33; 95% CI: -0.97, 0.31). No significant publication bias was shown in the meta-analysis.

Conclusions: Marine-derived n-3 PUFA had a beneficial effect on reducing the concentration of TXB2 in blood of subjects with high risk of CVD as well as LTB4 in neutrophils in unhealthy subjects, and that subjects with RA showed lower LTB4 content with supplementation of marine-derived n-3 PUFA.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism
  • Chronic Disease / drug therapy
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dinoprostone / biosynthesis
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Eicosanoids / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Leukotriene B4 / biosynthesis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Research Design
  • Thromboxane B2 / biosynthesis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Eicosanoids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Leukotriene B4
  • Thromboxane B2
  • Dinoprostone

Grant support

This study was funded by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program: 2015CB553604); by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC: 81273054); and by the Ph.D. Programs Foundation of Ministry of Education of China (20120101110107).