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Intravenous Lipid Emulsions to Deliver Bioactive Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Improved Patient Outcomes

  • calder, philip c.
Publication Date
May 08, 2019
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Lipids used in intravenous nutrition support (i.e., parenteral nutrition) provide energy, building blocks, and essential fatty acids. These lipids are included as emulsions since they need to be soluble in an aqueous environment. Fish oil is a source of bioactive omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid). Lipid emulsions, including fish oil, have been used for parenteral nutrition for adult patients post-surgery (mainly gastrointestinal). This has been associated with alterations in biomarkers of inflammation and immune defense, and in some studies, a reduction in length of intensive care unit and hospital stay. These benefits, along with a reduction in infections, are emphasized through recent meta-analyses. Perioperative administration of fish oil may be superior to postoperative administration, but this requires further exploration. Parenteral fish oil has been used in critically ill adult patients. Here, the influence on inflammatory processes, immune function, and clinical endpoints is less clear. However, some studies found reduced inflammation, improved gas exchange, and shorter length of hospital stay in critically ill patients if they received fish oil. Meta-analyses do not present a consistent picture but are limited by the small number and size of studies. More and better trials are needed in patient groups in which parenteral nutrition is used and where fish oil, as a source of bioactive omega-3 fatty acids, may offer benefits.

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