Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids in asthma- and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.Eur J Clin Nutr 2005; 59(12):1335-46EJ
Despite progress that has been made in the treatment of asthma, the prevalence and burden of this disease has continued to increase. While pharmacological treatment of asthma is usually highly effective, medications may have significant side effects or exhibit tachyphylaxis. Alternative therapies for treatment that reduce the dose requirements of pharmacological interventions would be beneficial, and could potentially reduce the public health burden of this disease. Ecological and temporal data suggest that dietary factors may have a role in recent increases in the prevalence of asthma. A possible contributing factor to the increased incidence of asthma in Western societies may be the consumption of a proinflammatory diet. In the typical Western diet, 20- to 25-fold more omega (n)-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) than n-3 PUFA are consumed, which promotes the release of proinflammatory arachidonic acid metabolites (leukotrienes and prostanoids). This review will analyze the evidence for the health effects of n-3 PUFA in asthma- and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). While clinical data evaluating the effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in asthma has been equivocal, it has recently been shown that fish oil supplementation, rich in n-3 PUFA, reduces airway narrowing, medication use, and proinflammatory mediator generation in nonatopic elite athletes with EIB. These findings are provocative and suggest that dietary fish oil supplementation may be a viable treatment modality and/or adjunct therapy in asthma and EIB.