Biophysics of fish oil health benefits

Release Date: 
May 17 2017
INDIANAPOLIS -- Fish oils relieve the symptoms of many chronic health conditions. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are the active ingredient, but how much to take is unclear because why they are good for us is not properly understood.
 
A research group led by physics professor Stephen Wassall, Ph.D., in collaboration with colleagues at IUPUI and researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Wabash College, East Carolina University and other institutions seeks to answer this question. Their approach is to study model membranes that mimic biological membranes into which PUFA incorporate.
 
“What happens at the physiological level has a molecular origin,” Wassall explained. He uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), a technique related to
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to record changes in the model membranes. While it’s known that PUFA are elevated in the brain and eye and are important to health, Wassall aims to better understand their molecular mode of action.
 
Results from experiment and computer simulation reveal changes at the molecular level in the architecture of membranes due to PUFA that potentially are the origin of health benefits.