Systematic Review of the Effects of N-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Published in: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, v. 82, no. 3, Sep. 2005, p. 611-619

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2004

by Catherine MacLean, Walter Mojica, Sydne Newberry, James Pencharz, Rena Hasenfeld Garland, Wenli Tu, Lara Hilton, Ian M. Gralnek, Shannon Rhodes, Puja Khanna, Sally C. Morton

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BACKGROUND: nb6s3 Fatty acids are purported to have health effects in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but studies have reported mixed results. OBJECTIVE: The authors aimed to synthesize published and unpublished evidence to determine estimates of the effect of nb6s3 fatty acids on clinical outcomes in IBD and whether nb6s3 fatty acids modify the effects of or need for treatment with other agents. DESIGN: Computerized databases were searched for studies of nb6s3 fatty acids in immune-mediated diseases from 1966 to 2003. The authors also contacted experts in the nutraceutical industry to identify unpublished studies; however, none were identified. RESULTS: Reviewers identified 13 controlled trials that assessed the effects of nb6s3 fatty acids on clinical, sigmoidoscopic, or histologic scores; rates of induced remission or relapse; or requirements for steroids and other immunosuppressive agents in Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis. Most clinical trials were of good quality. Fewer than 6 were identified that assessed the effects of nb6s3 fatty acids on any single outcome of clinical, endoscopic, or histologic scores or remission or relapse rates. Consistent across 3 studies was the finding that nb6s3 fatty acids reduce corticosteroid requirements, although statistical significance was shown in only 1 of these studies. CONCLUSION: The available data are insufficient to draw conclusions about the effects of nb6s3 fatty acids on clinical, endoscopic, or histologic scores or remission or relapse rates.

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