Clin Immunol Immunopathol 1989 (Aug); 52 (2): 257–270
Virella G, Kilpatrick JM, Rugeles MT, Hyman B, Russell R
Department of Microbiology and Immunology,
Medical University of South Carolina,
Previous studies have demonstrated that eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) has anti-inflammatory properties in both humans and experimental animals and may also depress humoral immunity in experimental animals. Our investigations showed that the addition of eicosapentanoic acid to human peripheral blood mononuclear cell cultures inhibited B cell responses to mitogenic stimulation and depressed the expression of interleukin 2 receptors in pokeweed mitogen-stimulated lymphocytes. Neutrophils were also affected in their ability to release the contents of primary and secondary granules, particularly when stimulated with antigen-antibody complexes. Similar depressions of B cell responses and neutrophil functions were observed in a normal volunteer who ingested 6 g/day of a commercially available fish oil extract (equivalent to 2.1 g of EPA/day) during a 6-week period. Phagocytosis, enzymatic release, circulating immunoglobulin levels, and the response to tetanus toxoid both in vivo and in vitro were depressed during ingestion of fish oil. Most parameters showed a trend toward normalization 6 weeks after the suspension of fish oil supplementation. These effects of fish oil extracts and EPA on phagocytosis and humoral responses may be advantageously used in the therapy of chronic inflammatory diseases and autoimmune diseases but could be a cause for concern when these compounds are used for longer periods of time and with minimal medical supervision for the prophylaxis of atherosclerosis.