Omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are found naturally in fish oil and are commonly thought to be anti-inflammatory nutrients, with protective effects in inflammatory diseases including asthma and allergies. The mechanisms of these effects remain mostly unknown but are of great interest for their potential therapeutic applications. Large numbers of epidemiological and observational studies investigating the effect of fish intake or omega-3 fatty acid supplementation during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adulthood on asthmatic and allergic outcomes have been conducted. They mostly indicate protective effects and suggest a causal relationship between decreased intake of fish oil in modernized diets and an increasing number of individuals with asthma or other allergic diseases. Specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPM: protectins, resolvins, and maresins) are generated from omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA via several enzymatic reactions. These mediators counter-regulate airway eosinophilic inflammation and promote the resolution of inflammation in vivo. Several reports have indicated that the biosynthesis of SPM is impaired, especially in severe asthma, which suggests that chronic inflammation in the lung might result from a resolution defect. This article focuses on the beneficial aspects of omega-3 fatty acids and offers recent insights into their bioactive metabolites including resolvins and protectins.
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