We undertook this study to assess the effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) (administered at ≥2.7 g/day) for a minimum duration of 3 months on clinical outcomes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

The authors surveyed randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effects of omega-3 PUFAs on clinical outcomes in RA patients using Medline and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register and by performing manual searches. Meta-analysis of RCTs was performed using fixed and random effects models. Outcomes are presented as standardized mean differences (SMD).

Ten RCTs involving 183 RA patients and 187 placebo-treated RA controls were included in this meta-analysis. The analysis showed that omega-3 PUFAs clearly reduced nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) consumption (SMD -0.518, 95% CI -0.915 to -0.121, p = 0.011) without between-study heterogeneity (I(2) = 0%). Tender joint count (SMD -0.214, 95% CI-0.489-0.062, p = 0.128), swollen joint count (SMD -0.170, 95% CI-0.454-0.114, p = 0.241), morning stiffness (SMD -0.224, 95% CI-0.955-0.212, p = 0.221), and physical function (SMD 0.264, 95% CI-0.232-0.724, p = 0.314) showed a trend to improve more in patients treated with omega-3 PUFAs than in placebo-treated controls, but they did not reach statistical significance.

This meta-analysis suggests that the use of omega-3 PUFAs at dosages >2.7 g/day for >3 months reduces NSAID consumption by RA patients. Further studies are needed t