Scientists have found that low dose dietary supplementation with omega-3 fish oils in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)—a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, nervous system, and other organs of the body—has a significant therapeutic effect on disease activity.
It also improves endothelial function and reduces oxidative stress and may therefore confer cardiovascular benefits, according to a study presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.
In a study, 60 patients with lupus were randomly assigned in a double-blind, placebo controlled trial to determine the effect of dietary supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on disease activity and endothelial function.
The researchers employed various methods to measure lupus disease activity, and to study endothelial function and cell damaging free radical molecules in this 24-week study. Participants who had been taking omega-3 fish oil showed significant improvement in all areas of measurement, including improved blood vessel function and a reduction in cell damaging molecules, at the end of the study. This in turn provided the subjects with potential cardiovascular benefits.
According to the researchers, there was also a significant improvement in a number of the symptoms of active lupus. "This study confirms the beneficial effects of omega-3 fish oils in improving the symptoms of SLE and also provides evidence for the potential cardioprotective effect they may have in this group of patients," said Dr. Stephen Wright, specialist registrar in rheumatology, department of therapeutics and musculoskeletal education & research unit, Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and lead investigator in the study.