Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Why fish is so good for you

Scientists of Friedrich Schiller University Jena and Jena University Hospital decode the antihypertensive impact of omega-3 fatty acids

Fish is healthy: easy to digest and with a high level of precious proteins, fish is considered an important part of a healthy diet. And with the so-called omega-3 fatty acids fish contains real ‘fountains of youth‘.

These fatty acids – like docosahexaeonic acid (DHA) occur mostly in fatty fish like herring, salmon and mackerel. They are thought to lower the blood pressure, to strengthen the immune system and to have positive effects on the development on the nervous system and the cardiovascular system.

“Clinical studies about the intake of nutritional supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids haven’t provided complete clarity so far,“ Prof. Dr. Stefan H. Heinemann from Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) says. “The molecular impact of the omega-3 fatty acids isn’t fully understood yet,” the biophysicist continues. But now scientists of the DFG research group FOR 1738 based at Jena University are able to bring new facts to light: in two newly published articles for the well-known science magazine ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA’ they describe how they analyzed the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on a systemic level and they also described the underlying molecular mechanisms for the first time.

The teams around Prof. Heinemann (Jena University), Prof. Dr. Michael Bauer (Jena University Hospital) and Prof. Dr. Toshinori Hoshi (University of Pennsylvania) were able to show that the so-called ‘SLO1’ potassium channel is an important component in the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids. “These ionic channels act like very specific receptors for DHA and are opened by the binding of the omega-3 fatty acids,” Biophysicist Heinemann explains. In the case of other omega-3 fatty acids – like the shorter eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) extracted from plants – the impact is much weaker.

Prof. Bauer and his colleagues examined the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on SLO1 channels of the cardiovascular system by experimenting with mice. “Administration of DHA should result in an expansion of the blood vessels and consequently a drop in blood pressure,” the physician says. The laboratory experiments confirmed exactly that. In genetically modified mice however, which were not able to produce the SLO1 channel, the antihypertensive impact of DHA failed to appear. ”Thus we were able to show for the first time that DHA directly influences the blood pressure, which is being mediated through SLO1 channels,” Bauer summarizes.

Beyond that, the scientists made another surprising discovery: a variant of DHA, which can often be found in nutritional supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, doesn’t show an antihypertensive effect. Moreover, it suppresses and even diminishes the effect of the natural DHA from fish oil. “The intake of non-natural omega-3 fatty acids can therefore also have counter-productive effects,” Prof. Bauer stresses. This is of particular importance for the nutritional supplements of patients in intensive care who are being drip-fed: their supplements of omega-3 fatty acids should be specifically aimed at and adapted to the patients’ clinical requirements.

Original Publications:
Hoshi, T., B. Wissuwa, T. Tian, N. Tajima, R. Xu, M. Bauer, S.H. Heinemann, S. Hou (2013) Omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure by directly activating large-conductance Ca2+-dependent K+ channels. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1221997110)
Hoshi, T., T. Tian, R. Xu, S.H. Heinemann, S. Hou (2013) Mechanism of the modulation of BK potassium channel complexes with different auxiliary subunit compositions by the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222003110)

Prof. Dr. Stefan H. Heinemann
Institute for Biochemistry and Biophysics
Center for Molecular Biomedicine (CMB)
Friedrich Schiller University Jena and Jena University Hospital
Hans-Knöll-Str. 2
D-07745 Jena
Phone: ++49 3641 / 9395650
Email: stefan.h.heinemann[at]

Prof. Dr. Michael Bauer
Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine
Center for Sepsis Control and Care (CSCC), Jena University Hospital
Erlanger Allee 101
D-07747 Jena
Phone: ++49 3641 / 9323110
Email: michael.bauer[at]

Dr. Ute Schönfelder | idw
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>