Nutritional Lipids and Mucosal Inflammation.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is characterized by chronic relapsing inflammation in the intestine. Given their role in regulation of inflammation, long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) represent a potential supplementary therapeutic approach to current drug regimens used for IBD. Mechanistically, there is ample evidence for an anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution effect of long-chain n-3 PUFAs after they incorporate into cell membrane phospholipids. They disrupt membrane rafts and when released from the membrane suppress inflammatory signaling by activating PPAR-γ and free fatty acid receptor 4; furthermore, they shift the lipid mediator profile from pro-inflammatory eicosanoids to specialized pro-resolving mediators. The allocation of long-chain n-3 PUFAs also leads to a higher microbiome diversity in the gut, increases short-chain fatty acid-producing bacteria, and improves intestinal barrier function by sealing epithelial tight junctions. In line with these mechanistic studies, most epidemiological studies support a beneficial effect of long-chain n-3 PUFAs intake on reducing the incidence of IBD. However, the results from intervention trials on the prevention of relapse in IBD patients show no or only a marginal effect of long-chain n-3 PUFAs supplementation. In light of the current literature, international recommendations are supported that adequate diet-derived n-3 PUFAs might be beneficial in maintaining remission in IBD patients.