Prevention role for omega-3 in diabetes

OMEGA-3 fatty acids, found in cold water fish, do not just protect against heart disease, arthritis and depression – research now suggests that they can also prevent diabetic retinopathy, and US investigators may have identified how they do this. 

An animal model has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can protect against blindness in two different ways: by promoting growth of healthy blood vessels in the eye and simultaneously inhibiting the growth of abnormal blood vessels.

Harvard University researchers isolated the specific compound responsible for the action  – a metabolite of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, known as 4-HDHA – and the enzyme that produces it (5-lipoxygenase, or 5-LOX). 

Although preliminary, the  new findings add to a previous study that found mice fed diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids had almost half the amount of abnormal blood vessel growth and a reduction in inflammatory messaging in the eye.