This article reviews novel approaches for omega-3 fatty acid (FA) therapeutics and the linked molecular mechanisms in cardiovascular and central nervous system (CNS) diseases. In vitro and in vivo research studies indicate that omega-3 FAs affect synergic mechanisms that include modulation of cell membrane fluidity, regulation of intracellular signaling pathways, and production of bioactive mediators. We compare how chronic and acute treatments with omega-3 FAs differentially trigger pathways of protection in heart, brain, and spinal cord injuries. We also summarize recent omega-3 FA randomized clinical trials and meta-analyses and discuss possible reasons for controversial results, with suggestions on improving the study design for future clinical trials. Acute treatment with omega-3 FAs offers a novel approach for preserving cardiac and neurological functions, and the combinations of acute treatment with chronic administration of omega-3 FAs might represent an additional therapeutic strategy for ameliorating adverse cardiovascular and CNS outcomes.
Keywords: acute treatment; chronic treatment; myocardial infarction; omega-3 fatty acids; spinal cord and brain injury; stroke.