Omega 3 fatty acids reduce myeloid progenitor cell frequency in the bone marrow of mice and promote progenitor cell differentiation

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Background: Omega 3 fatty acids have been found to inhibit proliferation, induce apoptosis, and promote differentiation in various cell types. The processes of cell survival, expansion, and differentiation are of key importance in the regulation of hematopoiesis. We investigated the role of omega 3 fatty acids in controlling the frequency of various myeloid progenitor cells in the bone marrow of mice. Increased progenitor cell frequency and blocked differentiation are characteristics of hematopoietic disorders of the myeloid lineage, such as myeloproliferative diseases and myeloid leukemias.

Results: We found that increasing the proportion of omega 3 fatty acids relative to the proportion of omega 6 fatty acids in the diet caused increased differentiation and reduced the frequency of myeloid progenitor cells in the bone marrow of mice. Furthermore, this had no adverse effect on peripheral white blood cell counts.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that omega 3 fatty acids impact hematopoietic differentiation by reducing myeloid progenitor cell frequency in the bone marrow and promoting progenitor cell differentiation. Further exploration of this discovery could lead to the use of omega 3 fatty acids as a therapeutic option for patients that have various disorders of hematopoiesis.


It is published in Lipids in Health and Disease 2009, 8:9 doi:10.1186/1476-511X-8-9.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.