Lupus-Related Kidney Disease and Essential Fatty Acids

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Lupus-Related Kidney Disease and Essential Fatty Acids

Reference: Clark WF, Parbtani A. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in clinical and experimental lupus nephritis. Am J Kidney Dis 1994; 23:644-47.

Summary: This article traces the history of experimental use of omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish, mostly eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA), to treat lupus nephritis. Initial studies in rodent models of this condition showed promise, leading to a small dosing trial in humans. High dose (18 g daily of MaxEPA) omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for five weeks in a group of 12 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus with kidney involvement led to improvement in various measures of lipid and inflammatory status. Next, a two year, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted. The placebo chosen was olive oil. The 26 patients took fish oil at an unspecified dose for one year, followed by a 10 week washout period then crossing over for another year. Measures of disease status were not significantly affected by fish oil supplementation compared to placebo. There were beneficial changes in lipid status seen in patients during the times in which they took fish oil. Finally, one mouse model of lupus nephritis was fed 15% of the diet as flaxseed, which is rich in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. Similar benefits to fish oil in this same model were seen. Flaxseed has not yet been tested in clinical trials with humans suffering from lupus nephritis.

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