n-3 Fatty acids are purported to have health effects in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but studies have reported mixed results.
Dr Catherine MacLean considered published and unpublished evidence to estimate of the effect of n-3 fatty acids on clinical outcomes in IBD.
The researchers also examined whether n-3 fatty acids modify the effects of or need for treatment with other agents.
Computerized databases were searched for studies of n-3 fatty acids in immune-mediated diseases from 1966 to 2003.
The researchers also contacted experts in the nutraceutical industry to identify unpublished studies, however, none were identified.
|3 studies found that n-3 fatty acids reduce corticosteroid requirements|
|American Journal of Clinical Nutrition|
Reviewers identified 13 controlled trials that assessed the effects of n-3 fatty acids on clinical, sigmoidoscopic, or histologic scores.
The team assessed rates of induced remission or relapse, or requirements for steroids and other immunosuppressive agents in Crohn's and ulcerative colitis.
The researchers reported that most clinical trials were of good quality.
Fewer than 6 assessed the effects of n-3 fatty acids on any single outcome of clinical, endoscopic, histologic scores, or remission or relapse rates.
Consistent across 3 studies was the finding that n-3 fatty acids reduce corticosteroid requirements.
However, the researchers noted that statistical significance was shown in only 1 of the 3 studies assessing corticosteroid requirement.
Dr MacLean's team concludes, “The available data are insufficient to draw conclusions about the effects of n-3 fatty acids on clinical, endoscopic, or histologic scores or remission or relapse rates.”