The data presented in this review describe consistent and reproducible beneficial effects of n-3 fatty acids on bone metabolism and bone/joint disease. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) modulate eicosanoid biosynthesis in numerous tissues and cell types, alter signal transduction, and influence gene expression. The effect of n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on cardiovascular disease, certain cancer and bone/joint health is related to the newer discoveries of how dietary PUFA impact health. Since the prostanoid PGE2 plays an important role in bone metabolism and inflammatory process, we speculate that by modulating the dietary ratio of n-6/n-3 fatty acids, bone growth could be optimized during bone modeling and bone mass better maintained during bone remodeling. Future research on n-3 fatty acids should focus on two aspects of bone. The first, to further elucidate the effects of n-3 fatty acids on biochemical and molecular factors that are involved in bone modeling, remodeling, and disease processes. The second, to evaluate the pharmaceutical interactions and applications of these nutraceutical fatty acids in maintaining bone mineral status and controlling inflammatory bone/joint diseases.
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