Protective Effects of ω-3 PUFA in Anthracycline-Induced Cardiotoxicity: A Critical Review

Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Dec 12;18(12):2689. doi: 10.3390/ijms18122689.


It has been demonstrated that ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFA) may exert a beneficial role as adjuvants in the prevention and treatment of many disorders, including cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Particularly, several in vitro and in vivo preclinical studies have shown the antitumor activity of ω-3 PUFA in different kinds of cancers, and several human studies have shown that ω-3 PUFA are able to decrease the risk of a series of cardiovascular diseases. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain their pleiotropic beneficial effects. ω-3 PUFA have also been shown to prevent harmful side-effects (including cardiotoxicity and heart failure) induced by conventional and innovative anti-cancer drugs in both animals and patients. The available literature regarding the possible protective effects of ω-3 PUFA against anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity, as well as the mechanisms involved, will be critically discussed herein. The study will analyze the critical role of different levels of ω-3 PUFA intake in determining the results of the combinatory studies with anthracyclines. Suggestions for future research will also be considered.

Keywords: anthracyclines; cardioprotection; cardiotoxicity; chemotherapy; ω-3 PUFA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthracyclines
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Cardiotonic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiotoxicity / etiology
  • Cardiotoxicity / prevention & control*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy


  • Anthracyclines
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3