The fat-soluble omega-3 fatty acid derivatives, Selective Pro-Resolving Mediatiors (SPMs), are critical in the resolution of inflammation, rather than just blocking the inflammatory cascade.
Inflammatory responses, like all biological cascades, are shaped by a delicate balance between positive and negative feedback loops. It is now clear that in addition to positive and negative checkpoints, the inflammatory cascade rather unexpectedly boasts an additional checkpoint, a family of chemicals that actively promote resolution and tissue repair without compromising host defence. Indeed the resolution phase of inflammation is just as actively orchestrated and carefully choreographed as its induction and inhibition. In this review we explore the immunological consequences of these omega-3-derived specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) and discuss their place within what is currently understood of the role of the arachidonic acid-derived prostaglandins, lipoxins and their natural C15-epimers. We propose that treatment of inflammation should not be restricted to the use of inhibitors of the acute cascade (antagonism) but broadened to take account of the enormous therapeutic potential of inducers (agonists) of the resolution phase of inflammation.