- Impair uptake of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).
- Inhibit desaturases, especially Δ6 desaturase.
- Competitively inhibit cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase.
- Compete with omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids for acyltransferases.
- Dilute pools of free arachidonic acid.
- Displace arachidonic acid from specific phospholipid pools.
- Form eicosanoid analogs with less activity or competitively bind to eicosanoid sites.
- Alter membrane properties and associated enzyme and receptor functions.
Source: adapted from Kinsella, J.E. in Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Health and Disease, R.S. Lees and M. Karel, eds, Dekker, New York, 1990.
Relationship between ω-3 , ω-6 and ω-9 fatty acid families
The Δ5 and Δ6 desaturases prefer fatty acids with double bonds in the omega-6 or n-6 and, secondarily, the omega-3 or n-3 position of the carbon chain.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid family competitively suppresses, at enzymatic level, the synthesis of the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids; for these reasons relative and absolute dietary intake is important in the determination of tissue omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels.
Both omega-3 and omega-6 families suppress the formation of the omega-9 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
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