Prevention of Cardiac Arrhythmia by Dietary (n-3) Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Their Mechanism of Action 1,2

January 1, 1997 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

Prevention of Cardiac Arrhythmia by Dietary (n-3) Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Their Mechanism of Action 1,2

Year: 1997
Authors: Nair, S.S.D. Leitch, J.W. Falconer, J. Garg, M.L.
Publication Name: J. Nutr.
Publication Details: Volume 127; Pages 383 – 393.


The role of marine fish oil (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids in the prevention of fatal ventricular arrhythmia has been established in experimental animals. Prevention of arrhythmias arising at the onset of ischemia and reperfusion is important because if untreated, they result in sudden cardiac death. Animals supplemented with fish oils in their diet developed little or no ventricular fibrillation after ischemia was induced. Similar effects have also been observed in cultured neonatal cardiomyocytes. Several mechanisms have been proposed and studied to explain the antiarrhythmic effects of fish oil polyunsaturated fatty acids, but to date, no definite mechanism has been validated. The sequence of action of these mechanisms and whether more than one mechanism is involved is also not clear. Some of the mechanisms suggested to explain the antiarrhythmic action of fish oils include the incorporation and modification of cell membrane structure by (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids, their direct effect on calcium channels and cardiomyocytes and their role in eicosanoid metabolism. Other mechanisms that are currently being investigated include the role of (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids in cell signalling mediated through phosphoinositides and their effect on various and receptors. This article reviews these mechanisms and the antiarrhythmic studies using (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids. (Author�s abstract)
This review provides a description of the role of n-3 fatty acids in reducing symptoms of cardiovascular disease (CVD), in particular through antiarrhythmic mechanisms. The authors note that all the studies they reviewed, both in animals and in the human intervention trials, support the role that dietary supplementation of fish oils confers beneficial effects on the heart particularly in the prevention of cardiac arrhythmias. They indicate that to date, no definite mechanism has been elucidated. All the mechanisms suggested appear to be interrelated, and it is not known whether their effects are independent or are compounded and in what sequence they take place. It is also not clear whether the mechanisms by which n-3 PUFA prevents cardiac arrhythmia are mediated via changes in plasma and/or vascular tissues or if they directly affect the electrophysiology of the heart. The n-3 PUFA from fish oils have also been found to modify several other factors such as enzymes and receptors. The authors suggest further research is needed to ascertain the mechanisms whereby n-3 PUFAs positively affect the heart muscle. (Editor�s comments)

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