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Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 539426, 16 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/539426
Review Article

Health Implications of High Dietary Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

1Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, Biosciences Institute, County Cork, Ireland
2Teagasc Food Research Centre, Biosciences Department, Moorepark, Fermoy, County Cork, Ireland
3Department of Microbiology, University College Cork, County Cork, Ireland

Received 28 July 2011; Revised 17 November 2011; Accepted 20 November 2011

Academic Editor: Rémy Meier

Copyright © 2012 E. Patterson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) (e.g., arachidonic acid (AA)) and omega-3 (n-3) PUFA (e.g., eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)) are precursors to potent lipid mediator signalling molecules, termed “eicosanoids,” which have important roles in the regulation of inflammation. In general, eicosanoids derived from n-6 PUFA are proinflammatory while eicosanoids derived from n-3 PUFA are anti-inflammatory. Dietary changes over the past few decades in the intake of n-6 and n-3 PUFA show striking increases in the (n-6) to (n-3) ratio (~15 : 1), which are associated with greater metabolism of the n-6 PUFA compared with n-3 PUFA. Coinciding with this increase in the ratio of (n-6) : (n-3) PUFA are increases in chronic inflammatory diseases such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), cardiovascular disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease (AD). By increasing the ratio of (n-3) : (n-6) PUFA in the Western diet, reductions may be achieved in the incidence of these chronic inflammatory diseases.