Consumption of fish oil, which is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, may be beneficial for patients with inflammatory diseases such as asthma.

The findings, led by researchers at University of Rochester in New York, found that omega-3 fatty acid products can reduce the production of IgE, the antibodies that cause allergic reactions and asthma symptoms in people with milder cases of asthma.

Once ingested, the omega 3 fatty acids convert to special pro-resolving mediators that halt inflammation without suppressing the immune system.

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However, in patients with severe asthma who use high doses of oral steroids, the omega-3 fatty acids were found less effective because the corticosteroids block the beneficial effects.Previous studies have shown that certain fatty acids contained in fish oil regulate the function of B cells.

For the new study, published in the journal JCI Insight, the team collected blood from 17 patients and isolated their B immune cells in the laboratory to explore the impact of pure omega-3-derived products on IgE and other molecules that fuel the disease.

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The results showed that all responded to the omega-3 fatty acids to some degree, as evidenced by a reduction in the levels of IgE antibodies. But the cells from patients who were taking oral steroids were less sensitive to the omega-3 treatment, said lead author Richard P. Phipps, professor at the University of Rochester.

In addition, consumers should use caution when buying fish oil because not all fish oil is the same, the researchers warned. “You really need high-quality, standardized material that’s been processed and stored correctly before comparing results from one study to another study,” Phipps said.

“Our study used the pure, biologically active products in fish oil, known as 17-HDHA, and we’ve provided a clear line of evidence for why intake of high-quality fish oil is good,” he added.