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The role of fish oil/omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of IgA nephropathy

  • James V Donadio
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to James V. Donadio, MD, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Stabile 722, Rochester, MN 55905, USA
    Affiliations
    Division of Nephrology, the Department of Medicine, and the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic & Mayo Foundation, Rochester, MN, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Joseph P Grande
    Affiliations
    Division of Nephrology, the Department of Medicine, and the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic & Mayo Foundation, Rochester, MN, USA
    Search for articles by this author

      Abstract

      Beneficial effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) have been reported in recent epidemiologic studies and randomized clinical trials in a variety of cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases. Fish and marine oils are the most abundant and convenient sources of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the two major n-3 fatty acids that serve as substrates for cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways leading to less potent inflammatory mediators than those produced through the n-6 PUFA substrate, arachidonic acid. N-3 PUFA can also suppress inflammatory and/or immunologic responses through eicosanoid-independent mechanisms. Although the pathophysiology of IgA nephropathy is incompletely understood, it is likely that n-3 PUFA prevents renal disease progression by interfering with a number of effector pathways triggered by mesangial immune-complex deposition. In addition, potential targets of n-3 PUFA relevant to renal disease progression could be similar to those involved in preventing the development and progression of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing serum lipid levels, decreasing vascular resistance, or preventing thrombosis. In IgA nephropathy, efficacy of n-3 PUFA contained in fish oil supplements has been tested with varying results. The largest randomized clinical trial performed by our collaborative group provided strong evidence that treatment for 2 years with a daily dose of 1.8 g of EPA and 1.2 g of DHA slowed the progression of renal disease in high-risk patients. These benefits persisted after 6.4 years of follow up. With safety, composition, and dosing convenience in mind, we can recommend two products that are available as pharmaceutical-grade fish-oil concentrates, Omacor (Pronova Biocare, Oslo, Norway) and Coromega (European Reference Botanical Laboratories, Carlsbad, CA).
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