PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To review the mechanisms of action of omega-3 fatty acids and their role in the brain, as well as their therapeutic implications in anorexia.

RECENT FINDINGS: Recent studies have demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids modulate changes in the concentrations and actions of several orexigenic and anorexigenic neuropeptides in the brain, including neuropeptide Y, alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone and the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.

In patients with acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, low tissue concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids and high concentrations of proinflammatory cytokines are found, in association with anorexia and decreased food intake.

The data suggest that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation suppresses proinflammatory cytokine production and improves food intake by normalizing hypothalamic orexigenic peptides and neurotransmitters.

SUMMARY: Based on current data, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has a role in the treatment of anorexia by stimulating the production and release of orexigenic neurotransmitters in food intake regulatory nuclei in the hypothalamus.