Omega Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: An Overview

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Sep 30;20(19):4851. doi: 10.3390/ijms20194851.


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are chronic, inflammatory processes that affect the gastrointestinal tract and are mainly represented by ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD). Omega 3 (ω3) fatty acids (eicosapentanoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) show an indispensable role in the inflammatory processes and, for these reasons, we aimed to review the effects of these acids on UC and CD. Databases such as PUMED and EMBASE were searched, and the final selection included fifteen studies that fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The results showed that ω3 fatty acids reduce intestinal inflammation, induce and maintain clinical remission in UC patients, and are related with the reduction of proinflammatory cytokines, decrease disease activity and increase the quality of life of CD patients. Furthermore, the consumption of these fatty acids may be related to a reduced risk of developing IBD. Many studies have shown the beneficial effects of ω3 as adjunctive in the treatment or prevention of UC or CD. Nevertheless, most were performed with a small number of patients and there are many variations in the mode of consumption, the type of food or the type of formulation used. All these factors substantially interfere with the results and do not allow reliable comparisons.

Keywords: crohn’s disease; docosahexaenoic acid; eicosapentaenoic acid; omega 3; ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / etiology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Research


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3