Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation can slow or inhibit choroidal neovascularization (CNV) caused by wet age-related macular degeneration, according to research published in the June 16 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition.

In this study, a team from Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard Medical School evaluated whether omega-3 or omega-6 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids could retard CNV proliferation. Researchers randomized groups of mice to receive an experimental diet enriched with either omega-3s or omega-6s, or a control diet, for two weeks. Then, the mice underwent laser photocoagulation to precipitate CNV development.

 The researchers determined that those in the omega-3 group exhibited markedly smaller CNV lesions and less vascular leakage than those in the omega-6 or control groups.

“These are the first results showing that omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and their cytochrome P450-derived metabolites can regulate choroidal angiogenesis in vivo,” says senior author Kip Connor, PhD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. “Our findings not only show promising therapeutic potential for resolution of neovascular AMD, but also for other conditions or diseases that involve pathologic angiogenesis and inflammation.”

Yanai R, Mulki L, Hasegawa E, et al. Cytochrome P450-generated metabolites derived from omega-3 fatty acids attenuate neovascularization. PNAS. 2014 Jun 16. [Epub ahead of print]