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Omega-3 Fatty Acids of No Help Treating Multiple Sclerosis

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 03 May 2012
A new study claims that supplementation with ω−3 fatty acids had no beneficial effects on multiple sclerosis (MS) disease activity.

Researchers at Haukeland University Hospital (Bergen, Norway), the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU; Trondheim), and other institutions conducted a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial at 13 public neurology departments in Norway totaling 92 patients (ages 18 to 55) with relapsing-remitting MS. The patients were given either 1,350 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 850 mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) every day, or placebo. After the first six months of the trial, all patients were also given 44 mcg of interferon beta-1a three times a week for another 18 months.

The primary outcome measure was magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) disease activity, as measured by the number of new enhancing lesions during the first six months. Secondary outcome measures included MRI disease activity after 9 and 24 months, relapse rate, disability progression, fatigue, quality of life, and safety.

The results showed that the cumulative number of MRI lesions during the first six months were similar in the ω−3 fatty acids and placebo groups. No difference in relapse rate was detected after six or 24 months; the proportion of patients without disability progression was 70% in both groups. No differences were detected in fatigue or quality-of-life scores, and no safety concerns appeared. Serum analyses of fatty acids showed an increase in ω−3 fatty in the patients treated with ω−3 fatty acids compared with the placebo group. The researchers found that the lesion rate ratio was significantly lower only after interferon treatment. The study was published ahead of print on April 16, 2012, in the Archives of Neurology.

“Omega-3 fatty acids have no beneficial effects on disease activity in MS, either as monotherapy or in combination with interferon beta-1a,” concluded lead author Oivind Torkildsen, MD, PhD, and colleagues of the Norwegian Multiple Sclerosis Competence Center. “As expected, the MRI disease activity was significantly reduced when interferon beta-1a was introduced.”

MS is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to demyelination and scarring, as well as a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms resulting from the inability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other effectively. Disease onset usually occurs in young adults, and it is more common in women.

Related Links:

Haukeland University Hospital
Norwegian University of Science and Technology




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