STKE: Why a Diet Rich in Seafood is Healthy

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Science  27 Oct 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5799, pp. 567c
DOI: 10.1126/science.314.5799.567c

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in marine organisms, have been associated with beneficial health effects. One mechanism for their anti-inflammatory effect is via competitive inhibition of the enzymatic activity of cyclooxygenase (COX), which is the rate-limiting step in the biosynthesis of prostaglandins. Massaro et al. report that exposure of vascular endothelial cells to the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoate (DHA) for periods long enough for it to be incorporated into cellular membranes inhibits the activation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) and, subsequently, the expression of COX-2 and prostaglandin production in response to the proinflammatory signal interleukin-1α (IL-1α). Treatment of endothelial cells with DHA altered their responses to IL-1α by (i) decreasing the activation of extracellular-stimulated kinases 1 and 2, without changing the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase; (ii) decreasing reactive oxygen species production through inhibiting the membrane association of the p47phox subunit of NADPH oxidase, and (iii) decreasing the membrane association of protein kinase Cϵ (PKCϵ), but not PKCα or PKCζ. Thus, it appears that the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids may be due in part to their effects on membrane lipid composition, which reduces signaling in response to inflammatory stimuli. — NRG

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 103, 15184 (2006).

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