BACKGROUND: Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3 levels are decreased in the hepatic tissue of patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are negative regulators of hepatic lipogenesis and attenuate the inflammatory response in mice. AIM: To investigate whether polyunsaturated fatty acid may be effective in the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

METHODS: Forty patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease were randomized into two groups for treatment of 6 months duration. Group DP (n=20) received an AHA recommended diet and polyunsaturated fatty acid 2g/day; Group D (n=20) received only the AHA regular diet. Outcome measurements were fatty liver assessed by abdominal ultrasound, liver aminotransferase and tumour necrosis factor-alpha serum levels, and insulin resistance assessed by HOMA(IR).

RESULTS: After 6 months of treatment, the DP group displayed a decrease in alanine aminotransferase levels (p<0.01), as well as in triglyceride levels (p<0.01), serum tumour necrosis factor-alpha levels (p<0.05) and in HOMA(IR) (p<0.05). In the D group, no significant modification was observed. In the DP group, complete fatty liver regression was observed in 33.4% of the patients, and an overall reduction in 50%. In contrast, no patient achieved complete regression in the D group, whereas some amount of reduction occurred in 27.7% of the patients; the remaining 72.2% did not change.

CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that alanine aminotransferase, triglyceride and serum tumour necrosis factor-alpha levels, as well as fatty liver improved after polyunsaturated fatty acid administration.

Keywords: Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, NAFLD - Omega-3 Fatty Acids, PUFAs