How does fish oil protect the heart? The answer to this question has been elusive so far. Scientists know that omega-3 fatty acids exert an anti-inflammatory effect, but the mechanism had not been clearly followed.
A new study has now mapped the cellular process occurring after EPA supplementation and found that the nutrient blocks the cyclooxygenase enzyme (COX), which is a precursor to inflammation. COX produces hormones called prostaglandins, which cause inflammation in the body.
This is similar to the mechanism of aspirin, which blocks COX-2 signaling, thereby reducing inflammation and pain.
Ref: Norris PC, Dennis EA. “Omega-3 fatty acids cause dramatic changes in TLR4 and purinergic eicosanoid signaling.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 May 14. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22586114