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Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation improves myocardial function, oxidative stress in Rett syndrome

05.16.2014

An article that appeared on January 12, 2014 in the journal Mediators of Inflammation reports a benefit for supplementation with omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in Rett syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder that is associated with a 300-fold increased risk of sudden cardiac death in comparison with that of the general population.

The study included 66 female Rett syndrome patients of an average age of 12 years. Half of the participants received twice daily supplements of fish oil containing the omega 3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for one year, while the remainder received no supplementation. Echocardiography evaluated myocardial function before and after the treatment period, and blood samples collected at the beginning of the study and at six and twelve months were analyzed for plasma free isoprostanes (markers of oxidative stress) and other factors.

Omega-3-supplemented subjects experienced a reduction in oxidative stress markers after twelve months, whereas the control group had no significant changes. Myocardial dysfunction and clinical severity also significantly improved among those who received omega 3 while remaining relatively unchanged in unsupplemented patients. The researchers also observed significant improvements in attention, breathing abnormalities, muscle tone, movement, autonomic dysfunction, and growth in supplemented subjects.

"Our current working hypothesis on the beneficial effects of omega 3 PUFAs in Rett syndrome is that the increased isoprostane levels in Rett syndrome are not simply the effect of the peroxidation of the PUFAs precursors following the attack by radical oxygen species (ROS), but rather the effect of a potential dysregulation of the molecular targets of omega 3 PUFAs," write authors Silvia Maffei of University Hospital AOUS in Siena, Italy and her colleagues. "Contrary to expectations, the assumed fatty acids are not further oxidized, while the actual endogenous isoprostanes production is reduced (the "fatty acid paradox") together with amelioration of the clinical disease severity."

"Taken as a whole, these findings suggest that oxidative stress may play a key role in the systolic performance of the Rett syndrome myocardium and that it can be at least partially rescued by omega 3 PUFAs dietary supplementation," they write.

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