The intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in many industrialized countries is relatively low and its increased consumption has protective and modifying effects on such diverse conditions as atherosclerosis, ventricular arrhythmias, multiple sclerosis, major depression and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

In addition, n-3 PUFAs have been shown to alleviate pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and in a number of other painful conditions.

This has been attributed to the inhibition of pro-inflammatory eicosanoid and cytokine production by peripheral tissues. n-3 PUFAs have also been shown to inhibit eicosanoid production in glial cells, block voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs), inhibit neuronal protein kinases and modulate gene expression. They also appear to have mood-stabilizing and sympatholytic effects.

The present article explores the possibility that, based on what is known about their neural and non-neural effects, n-3 PUFAs directly attenuate the neuronal and glial processes that underlie neuropathic and inflammatory pain.