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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effects of fish oil on lymphocyte proliferation, cytokine production and intracellular signalling in weanling pigs.

It has been widely documented that fish oil attenuates inflammatory responses partially via down-regulation of T-lymphocyte function. To determine the anti-inflammatory role of fish oil in weanling pigs, we investigated the effects of fish oil and its functional constituents on peripheral blood lymphocyte proliferation, cytokine production and subsequent intracellular signalling in inflammatory-challenged weanling pig and in in vitro cultured lymphocytes. Fish oil (7%) or corn oil (7%) was supplemented to 72 crossbred pig (7.6 +/- 0.3 kg BW and 28 +/- 3 days of age) in a 2 x 2 factorial experiment that included an Eacherichia coil lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge (challenged or not challenged). On day 14 and 28 of the experiment, 200 microg/kg BW of LPS or an equivalent amount of sterile saline was administered to the pigs by intraperitoneal injection. Blood samples were collected on days 15 and 29 to determine peripheral blood lymphocyte proliferation, interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) production. The results showed that inflammatory challenge decreased average daily gain (P < 0.05) and average daily feed intake (P < 0.05) during days 15-28. Fish oil supplementation had no effect on growth performance. Inflammatory challenge increased lymphocyte proliferative response to concanavalin A (Con A) (P < 0.05) following each challenge. Fish oil tended to suppress (P < 0.1) the proliferation following the first challenge. Similarly, fish oil tended to reduce IL-1beta production (P < 0.1) following the second challenge and IL-2 (P < 0.1) production following the first challenge in both challenged and unchallenged pigs compared with corn oil. In parallel in vitro experiments, peripheral blood lymphocytes of weanling pigs were incubated with various concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or linoleic acid (LA) (0, 20, 40, 60, 80, 100 microg/ml). EPA, DHA and high levels of LA predominantly suppressed IL-1beta (P < 0.05), IL-2 (P < 0.05) production and subsequent lymphocyte proliferation (P < 0.05). Low levels of LA increased (P < 0.05) IL-2 production. Compared with LA, EPA resulted in a stronger inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation (P < 0.05) and IL-2 (P < 0.01), and DHA resulted in a stronger inhibition of IL-1beta (P < 0.05) and IL-2 (P < 0.01). To elucidate the mechanism(s) by which fish oil and its functional constituents suppressed lymphocyte function, the kinetics of intracellular [Ca2+]i and protein kinase C activity were determined in in vitro experiments. EPA, DHA and LA exerted very similar dose-dependent stimulatory effects on intracellular Ca2+. EPA and DHA inhibited protein kinase C activity (P < 0.05), while LA had no significant effect (P > 0.05). These results suggest that fish oil and its functional constituents (EPA and DHA) exerted an anti-inflammatory effect by down-regulation of lymphocyte activation in weanling pigs, possibly by manipulation of intracellular signalling.[1]


  1. Effects of fish oil on lymphocyte proliferation, cytokine production and intracellular signalling in weanling pigs. Liu, Y., Gong, L., Li, D., Feng, Z., Zhao, L., Dong, T. Archiv für Tierernährung. (2003) [Pubmed]
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