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.
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)