Dietary long-chain omega-3 fatty acids do not diminish eosinophilic pulmonary inflammation in mice

Gertrud U. Schuster, Jennifer M. Bratt, Xiaowen Jiang, Theresa L. Pedersen, Dmitry Grapov, Yuriko Adkins, Darshan S. Kelley, John W. Newman, Nicholas Kenyon, Charles B. Stephensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Although the effects of fish oil supplements on airway inflammation in asthma have been studied with varying results, the independent effects of the fish oil components, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), administered separately, are untested. Here, we investigated airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness using a mouse ovalbumin exposure model of asthma assessing the effects of consuming EPA (1.5% wt/wt), DHA (1.5% wt/wt), EPA plus DHA (0.75% each), or a control diet with no added omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Consuming these diets for ± weeks resulted in erythrocyte membrane EPA contents (molar %) of 9.0 (±0.6), 3.2 (±0.2), 6.8 (±0.5), and 0.01 (±0.0)%; DHA contents were 6.8 (±0.1), 15.6 (±0.5), 12.3 (±0.3), and 3.8 (±0.2)%, respectively. The DHA group had the highest bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid eosinophil and IL-6 levels (P < 0.05). Similar trends were seen for macrophages, IL-4, and IL-13, whereas TNF-α was lower in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid groups than the control (P < 0.05). The DHA group also had the highest airway resistance, which differed significantly from the EPA plus DHA group (P < 0.05), which had the lowest. Oxylipins were measured in plasma and BAL fluid, with DHA and EPA suppressing arachidonic acid-derived oxylipin production. DHA-derived oxylipins from the cytochrome P450 and 15-lipoxygenase pathways correlated significantly with BAL eosinophil levels. The proinflammatory effects of DHA suggest that the adverse effects of individual fatty acid formulations should be thoroughly considered before any use as therapeutic agents in asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)626-636
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • Eosinophils
  • Inflammation
  • Lipid mediators
  • Rodents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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