Specialized pro-resolving mediators II – What are the specialized pro-resolving mediators?


As we have explained in a previous post, the inflammatory response is protective, since it allows the repair of injured tissues and the elimination of invading organisms (for example, bacteria). Ideally, after the process of elimination and cleaning, tissues return to normal state (healing); if not, inflammation becomes chronic. Nowadays it is known that chronification of the inflammatory response is on the basis of several diseases and disorders (obesity, cognitive decline, metabolic syndrome, pain, cancer, etc.).

Numerous studies of the past 40 years suggest that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids has beneficial effects in health, but the molecular mechanisms for their protective actions remained unexplained. Recently, it has been discovered that omega-3 fatty acids present in oils from marine source are precursors of a group of molecules that seem to be responsible for their effects on human health. These molecules have been named «specialized pro-resolving mediators» (SPM), and include several families: resolvins, which are produced from EPA, and protectins and maresins, which are produced from DHA. Each of these molecules has its own structure and functions, but, overall, specialized pro-resolving mediators control the magnitude and duration of inflammation, infection and tissue injury.

It is a great discovery, and help us to understand the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids in human health.