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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 791978, 14 pages
Review Article

Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Structural and Functional Effects on the Vascular Wall

Department of Medicine, Surgery and Health Sciences, University of Trieste, Strada di Fiume 447, 34149 Trieste, Italy

Received 25 September 2014; Accepted 26 January 2015

Academic Editor: Yong Q. Chen

Copyright © 2015 Michela Zanetti 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.


Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) consumption is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease risk. Increasing evidence demonstrating a beneficial effect of n-3 PUFA on arterial wall properties is progressively emerging. We reviewed the recent available evidence for the cardiovascular effects of n-3 PUFA focusing on structural and functional properties of the vascular wall. In experimental studies and clinical trials n-3 PUFA have shown the ability to improve arterial hemodynamics by reducing arterial stiffness, thus explaining some of its cardioprotective properties. Recent studies suggest beneficial effects of n-3 PUFA on endothelial activation, which are likely to improve vascular function. Several molecular, cellular, and physiological pathways influenced by n-3 PUFA can affect arterial wall properties and therefore interfere with the atherosclerotic process. Although the relative weight of different physiological and molecular mechanisms and the dose-response on arterial wall properties have yet to be determined, n-3 PUFA have the potential to beneficially impact arterial wall remodeling and cardiovascular outcomes by targeting arterial wall stiffening and endothelial dysfunction.