Marine-Derived Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Heart Failure: Current Understanding for Basic to Clinical Relevance

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Aug 18;20(16):4025. doi: 10.3390/ijms20164025.


Heart failure (HF) is a rapidly growing global public health problem. Since HF results in high mortality and re-hospitalization, new effective treatments are desired. Although it remains controversial, omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), such as the eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, have been widely recognized to have benefits for HF. In a large-scale clinical trial regarding secondary prevention of HF by n-3 PUFA (GISSI-HF trial), the supplementation of n-3 PUFA significantly reduced cardiovascular mortality and hospitalization. Other small clinical studies proposed that n-3 PUFA potentially suppresses the ventricular remodeling and myocardial fibrosis, which thereby improves the ventricular systolic and diastolic function both in ischemic and non-ischemic HF. Basic investigations have further supported our understanding regarding the cardioprotective mechanisms of n-3 PUFA against HF. In these reports, n-3 PUFA has protected hearts through (1) anti-inflammatory effects, (2) intervention of cardiac energy metabolism, (3) modification of cardiac ion channels, (4) improvement of vascular endothelial response, and (5) modulation of autonomic nervous system activity. To clarify the pros and cons of n-3 PUFA on HF, we summarized recent evidence regarding the beneficial effects of n-3 PUFA on HF both from the clinical and basic studies.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; docosahexaenoic acid; eicosapentaenoic acid; heart failure; n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid; omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use
  • Heart Failure / metabolism
  • Heart Failure / prevention & control*
  • Humans


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3