Mice genetically altered to produce their own eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an n-3 or omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, were protected against heart disease and had improved cardiac function in a recent study (Endo J et al. J Exp Med. 2014;211:1673-1687).
A team led by investigators in Japan found that this protection required the EPA metabolite 18-hydroxyeicosapentaenoic acid (18-HEPE), produced by macrophage immune cells, which dampened inflammation and fibrosis in the heart. Direct treatment of the mice with 18-HEPE provided similar heart-protective effects.
Hampton T. Mechanism Behind Omega-3 Fatty Acids’ Heart Benefits. JAMA. 2014;312(9):882. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.11282