Inflammation is a unifying component of many of the diseases that afflict Western civilizations. Nutrition therapy and, in particular, essential fatty acid supplementation is one of the approaches that is currently in use for the treatment and management of many inflammatory conditions. The purpose of the present review is to discuss the recent literature in light of the discovery that essential fatty acids are converted by the body to a novel genus of lipid mediators, termed specialized proresolving mediators (SPMs).

The SPM genus is composed of four mediator families - the lipoxins, resolvins, protectins, and maresins. These molecules potently and stereoselectively promote the termination of inflammation, tissue repair, and regeneration. Recent studies indicate that in disease, SPM production becomes dysregulated giving rise to a status of failed resolution. Of note, several studies found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, at doses within the recommended daily allowance, led to increases in several SPM families that correlate with enhanced white blood cell responses in humans and reduced inflammation in mice.

Given the potent biological actions of SPM in organ protection and promoting bacterial clearance, nutritional therapies enriched in omega-3 fatty acids hold promise as a potential co-therapy approach when coupled with functional lipid mediator profiling.