The human body needs essential fatty acids such as omega 3 for harmonious development and healthy growth, both in children and in adults.

Omega 3 fatty acids are not produced by the body, so they must be introduced with the diet and through the intake of supplements.

DHA or docosahexaenoic acid and EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid are unsaturated fatty acid triglycerides that represent an important structural component of human cell membranes, in particular of neuronal cells.

The fatty acids of the omega 3 series deeply affect different types of biological responses, they influence the stability and fluidity of the membrane, the mobility of cells, the formation of receptors and the binding of ligands to their receptors, the activation of intracellular signaling pathways directly or through the formation of eicosanoids (molecules produced by the vascular endothelium and normally circulating in the blood), gene expression and cell differentiation: they act as real immunonutrients.

Beneficial effects have been described for various pathological states, such as: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, depression, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative diseases.

Omega 3 possess very well documented anti-inflammatory properties and, consequently, they represent a therapeutic potential in chronic inflammatory diseases, including osteoarthritis, asthma, cardiovascular, dysmetabolic, neurodegenerative diseases.

They act on the various metabolic pathways of inflammation by modifying the activity of major inflammatory cells and molecules. Various studies show a marked decrease in CRP (Reactive Protein C) in patients taking a balanced combination of ALA, EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA inhibit the transcription factor STAT3 which, acting on interleukin 6, induces the expression of Reactive Protein C (CRP).

They also reduce arachidonic acid (ARA) in the cells involved in the immune response, as well as decrease the production of inflammatory eicosanoids that derive from ARA. They also cause an increase in Resolvine, Protectin and Maresine which are anti-inflammatory and inflammation-resolving molecules.

EPA and DHA are effective in inhibiting a vast number of aspects of inflammation including: leukocyte chemotaxis, the expression of adhesion molecules and the interactions between leukocytes and endothelium, the production of inflammatory eicosanoids such as leukotrienes, prostaglandins derived from ARA, proinflammatory cytokines and T cell reactivity.

The anti-inflammatory actions of omega 3 also include the fatty acid composition of altered phospholipid cell membranes, deteriorated cellular lipid structures, inhibition of the activation of the proinflammatory transcription factor NFKB which therefore limits the expression of inflammatory genes and activation of the anti-inflammatory transcription factor NR1C3. All these mechanisms are interconnected.


Useful for brain function, sight and the regulation of inflammatory phenomena; since June 2021 DHA has been associated with a possible reduction in the incidence of cancer. In 2016, Olivier Feron’s team, specialized in oncology, discovered that cells in an acidic environment within tumors use lipids, instead of glucose, to grow and multiply. In 2020 it showed that these same cells are the most aggressive and have the ability to generate metastases.

“Hungry for fatty acids, cancer cells, in an acidic environment, feed on DHA, but not being able to store it properly, they poison themselves and implode”.

DHA works through a mechanism called ferroptosis. Ferroptosis is a type of cell death linked to the peroxidation of some fatty acids. The greater the amount of unsaturated fatty acids in the cell, the greater the risk of their oxidation. In the acidic tumor environment, cells store these fatty acids in lipid droplets. Here the droplets are protected from oxidation. In the presence of a large amount of DHA, the cancer cell is overwhelmed and cannot store DHA, which oxidizes and leads to cell death.

For their study, the researchers used a 3D tumor cell culture system called spheroids. In the presence of DHA, the spheroids first grow slightly and then implode. Mice with tumors also fed a DHA-enriched diet; tumor development was significantly slowed compared to that of mice fed a conventional diet. Further studies will be needed to confirm these early results.


“II ruolo degli omega-3 nel paziente pluripatologico complesso “Mauro Campanini, Roberto. QUADERNI – Italian Journal of Medicine 2015; volume 3:241-24

Vanda Magazine; Issue 5, a cura di R. Russo, CEO Vanda