Philip C. Calder talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's New Hot Paper in the field of Agricultural
Article Title: Polyunsaturated fatty acids,
inflammatory processes and inflammatory bowel
Journal: MOL NUTR FOOD RES
Volume: 52, Issue: 8, Page: 885-897, Year: AUG 2008
* Univ Southampton, Inst Human Nutr, Sch Med, Tremona Rd,
Southampton SO16 6YD, Hants, England.
* Univ Southampton, Inst Human Nutr, Sch Med, Southampton
SO16 6YD, Hants, England.
Why do you think your paper is highly
This paper is a review article that begins by describing the respective
roles of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and the mechanisms
of action involved. The article then goes on to review the evidence from
animal models and from human studies that marine omega-3 fatty acids, as
found in fish oil, exert an anti-inflammatory effect in inflammatory bowel
diseases and that this is associated with clinical improvement.
This is currently an area of interest and I believe that my article is
highly cited because it collates and integrates the basic science with the
clinical studies and attempts to review the entirety of the human clinical
trial data. Thus it represents a broad-ranging but integrated
state-of-the-art summary of the field at its time of writing. This is
clearly an attraction to others. I believe that the article presents a new
integrated synthesis of knowledge from the basic sciences and from clinical
Would you summarize the significance of your paper
in layman's terms?
"The work will focus both on human
studies and on improving our understanding of
underlying mechanisms using model
The paper describes the ways that omega-3 fatty acids from fish and fish
oils act to dampen inflammation and the evidence that this effect occurs.
One application of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids is in inflammatory
bowel diseases, in which the hosts' inflammatory response is targeted
against the hosts' gut wall, causing extensive damage which has an impact
on the health of the host.
Animal models mimicking the human disease show that omega-3 fatty acids
both reduce the likelihood of developing the disease and can also treat
existing disease. There are a number of human studies of omega-3 fatty
acids in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. These confirm that
anti-inflammatory effects do occur in these patients. However, only some of
the studies show a clinical benefit. We do not yet know why some studies
fail to show any clinical benefit.
How did you become involved in this research, and
were there any problems along the way?
I have been involved in fatty acid research for over 20 years and my work
has evolved against the background of available funding for research,
technical developments in analytical tools, and progress in scientific
knowledge and understanding. Much of my research has focused upon fatty
acid interaction with the immune and inflammatory systems and this article
stems from this core interest.
Where do you see your research leading in the
My research on the effects of fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids,
in the context of immunity and inflammation and in relation to
cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases, and allergy and asthma will
continue. The work will focus both on human studies and on improving our
understanding of underlying mechanisms using model systems.
School of Medicine
University of Southampton