Øivind Torkildsen et al. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Treatment in Multiple Sclerosis (OFAMS Study). A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Arch Neurol. April [Epub ahead of print] doi:10.1001/archneurol.2012.283
Objective To investigate whether omega-3 fatty acids reduce magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and clinical disease activity in patients with multiple sclerosis, both as monotherapy and in combination with interferon beta-1a treatment.
Methods: MSers aged 18 to 55 years with active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, with a disability score equivalent to 5.0 or less on the Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale. Ninety-two patients were randomized to omega-3 fatty acids (n = 46) or placebo capsules (n = 46). Administration of 1350 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid and 850 mg of docosahexaenoic acid daily or placebo. After 6 months, all patients in addition received subcutaneously 44 µg of interferon beta-1a 3 times per week for another 18 months. The primary outcome measure was MRI disease activity as measured by the number of new T1-weighted gadolinium-enhancing lesions during the first 6 months. Secondary outcome measures included MRI disease activity after 9 months and 24 months, relapse rate, disability progression, fatigue, quality of life, and safety.
Results The cumulative number of gadolinium-enhancing MRI lesions during the first 6 months were similar in the omega-3 fatty acids and placebo groups (median difference, 1; 95% CI, 0 to 3; P = .09). No difference in relapse rate was detected after 6 (median difference, 0; 95% CI, 0 to 0; P = .54) or 24 (median difference, 0; 95% CI, 0 to 0; P = .72) months. The proportion of patients without disability progression was 70% in both groups (P > .99). No differences were detected in fatigue or quality-of-life scores, and no safety concerns appeared. Serum analyses of fatty acids showed an increase in omega-3 fatty acids (mean difference, 7.60; 95% CI, 5.57 to 7.91; P < .001) in the patients treated with omega-3 fatty acids compared with the placebo group.
Conclusion No beneficial effects on disease activity were detected from omega-3 fatty acids when compared with placebo as monotherapy or in combination with interferon beta-1a. Magnetic resonance imaging disease activity was reduced as expected by interferon beta-1a.
There are many people out there that are taking omega-3 oils. This study fails to provide any evidence to support the use of this dietary supplement in the control of relapsing MS. Thus yet another example of the limited use of supplements.
However is this the right form of MS to be targeting. Based on our own studies with omega-3 oils in experimental MS, we have not really found any evidence to show that this inhibits the immunity that can drive relapsing disease. However, in some instances we have found beneficial effect in limiting nerve damage, which we would equal to more chance that it could effect progressive rather than relapsing MS. However as ever there is no definitive evidence that it affects MS in a positive manner.