Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Oxylipins in Neuroinflammation and Management of Alzheimer Disease

Adv Nutr. 2016 Sep 15;7(5):905-16. doi: 10.3945/an.116.012187. Print 2016 Sep.


Alzheimer disease (AD) is becoming one of the most prevalent neurodegenerative conditions worldwide. Although the disease progression is becoming better understood, current medical interventions can only ameliorate some of the symptoms but cannot slow disease progression. Neuroinflammation plays an important role in the advancement of this disorder, and n-3 (ω-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are involved in both the reduction in and resolution of inflammation. These effects may be mediated by the anti-inflammatory and proresolving effects of bioactive lipid mediators (oxylipins) derived from n-3 PUFAs [eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] in fish oil. Although interventions have generally used fish oil containing both EPA and DHA, several studies that used either EPA or DHA alone or specific oxylipins derived from these fatty acids indicate that they have distinct effects. Both DHA and EPA can reduce neuroinflammation and cognitive decline, but EPA positively influences mood disorders, whereas DHA maintains normal brain structure. Fewer studies with a plant-derived n-3 PUFA, α-linolenic acid, suggest that other n-3 PUFAs and their oxylipins also may positively affect AD. Further research identifying the unique anti-inflammatory and proresolving properties of oxylipins from individual n-3 PUFAs will enable the discovery of novel disease-management strategies in AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease; class switching; neuroinflammation; omega-3 fatty acids; oxylipins; polyunsaturated fatty acids; resolution of inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Mood Disorders / drug therapy
  • Oxylipins / pharmacology
  • Oxylipins / therapeutic use*
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / pharmacology
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Oxylipins
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid

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