The aim of the present review was to summarize recent research developments relating omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
COPD is a chronic inflammatory disease; hence, omega-3 PUFAs may have beneficial effects. At present, however, there are limited data available regarding the potential for omega-3 PUFAs to be used therapeutically in COPD. In 2012-2013, several observational studies have emerged, which demonstrate that circulating omega-3 PUFA levels in COPD are inversely associated with systemic inflammation and positively associated with clinical outcomes. To date, all interventions incorporating omega-3 PUFAs in COPD have used nutrient combinations, such that the specific effects of omega-3 PUFAs cannot be determined. Three clinical trials in COPD are underway, which use therapeutic doses of omega-3 PUFAs alone, with positive results beginning to emerge in 2014.
Observational data support the hypothesis that omega-3 PUFAs may provide a therapeutic strategy for managing COPD. Several intervention trials using omega-3 PUFAs in COPD are underway, which will provide a substantive amount of new data to inform the field and allow evidence-based advice to be generated for patients with COPD in the near future.