Increased concentrations of free arachidonic acid (AA) and its proinflammatory metabolites have been observed in psoriatic lesions. Replacement of arachidonic acid by alternative precursor polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which can be metabolized via the same enzymatic pathways as AA, might be a therapeutic option in psoriasis.

However the results of studies evaluating the therapeutic benefit of dietary fish oil have been conflicting and not clearly dose-dependent. To overcome the slow kinetics and limited availability of oral supplementation, we have performed three studies to assess the efficacy and safety of an intravenously administered fish oil derived lipid emulsion on different forms of psoriasis. Patients received daily infusions of either an n-3 fatty acid-based lipid emulsion (Omegaven) or a conventional n-6 lipid emulsion (Lipoven) in different time and dose regimens. In addition to an overall assessment of the clinical course of psoriasis, EPA- and AA-derived neutrophil 5-lipoxygenase (LO)--products, thromboxane (TX) B2/B3, PAF and plasma free fatty acids were investigated.

Treatment with n-3 fatty acids resulted in a considerably higher response rate than infusion of n-6 lipids. A more than 10-fold increase in neutrophil EPA-derived 5-LO product formation was noted in the n-3 group, accompanied by a rapid increase in plasma-free EPA within the first days.

In conclusion, intravenous n-3-fatty acid administration causes reduction of psoriasis, which may be related to changes in inflammatory eicosanoid generation. The rapidity of the response to intravenous n-3 lipids exceeds by orders of magnitude the hitherto reported kinetics of improvement of psoriatic lesions upon use of oral supplementation.