It has been shown that in animals, and probably in humans, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are antiarrhythmic. We discuss our recent studies on the antiarrhythmic actions of PUFAs. PUFAs stabilize the electrical activity of isolated cardiac myocytes by requiring a stronger electrical stimulus to elicit an action potential and by markedly prolonging the refractory period. These electrophysiologic effects are the result of specific modulation of ion currents, particularly of the voltage-dependent sodium current and of the L-type calcium currents across sarcolemmal phospholipid membranes. This appears to be the probable major antiarrhythmic mechanism of PUFAs. However, they also similarly affect neuronal ion channels with potentially important functional effects on the nervous system. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.
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