OBJECTIVES: The primary objective was to evaluate the effect of omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3 FA) on matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) production by immune cells in multiple sclerosis (MS). Quality of life, fatty acid levels, and safety were also evaluated.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Ten participants with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) received omega-3 FA supplementation (9.6g/day fish oil) in an open-label study. Participants were evaluated at four time points, baseline, after 1 month of omega-3 FA supplementation, after 3 months of omega-3 FA supplementation, and after a 3-month wash out.

RESULTS: Immune cell secretion of MMP-9 decreased by 58% after 3 months of omega-3 FA supplementation when compared with baseline levels (p<0.01). This effect was coupled with a significant increase in omega-3 FA levels in red blood cell membranes.

CONCLUSIONS: Omega-3 FA significantly decreased MMP-9 levels in RRMS and may act as an immune-modulator that has potential therapeutic benefit in MS patients.

Keywords: Omega-3 fatty acids, Multiple sclerosis, Matrix metalloproteinase