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Researchers Explain How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Protect Against Some Forms Of Blindness

February 9, 2011: 10:11 AM EST

U.S. researchers working in mice have shed light on the mechanism by which omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements, protect against some forms of blindness. According to the study, omega-3s directly affect angiogenesis by nurturing healthy blood vessel growth and restricting abnormal blood vessel growth. Two specific compounds in omega-3 fatty acids were isolated: a metabolite of DHA, known as 4-HDHA, and  the enzyme that produces it, known as  5-LOX, which activates the same receptor targeted by "glitazone" drugs taken by type 2 diabetics to boost sensitivity to insulin. The study found that COX-inhibiting drugs like aspirin and NSAIDs do not interfere with omega-3 activity, suggesting a safer way to raise insulin sensitivity in diabetics.

Przemyslaw Sapieha, et al. , "5-Lipoxygenase Metabolite 4-HDHA Is a Mediator of the Antiangiogenic Effect of -3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids", Science Translational Medicine, February 09, 2011, © American Association for the Advancement of Science
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