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Omega-3 backed to boost immune response, not just battle inflammation

09.24.2013

Long chain omega-3 fatty acids may help to boost the immune system by enhancing the functioning of immune cells, according to new research.


The study, published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology , suggests that instead of supressing theimmune system by reducing inflammation, consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids may actually enhance the function of immune B cells.


Led by Dr Jenifer Fenton from Michigan State University, USA, the research team noted that while DHA and EPA are widely believed to help prevent disease by reducing inflammation, until now, many scientists were not completely certain of any immune enhancing effects.

But new findings now show that DHA enhances the activity of white blood cells known as B cell – so challenging the idea that omega-3 oil is only immunosuppressive.


“These results support the hypothesis and an emerging concept that omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids enhances B cell function in vivo,” confirmed the researchers.


“This study tested the hypothesis that DHA is incorporated into the B cell membrane to alter lipid microdomain clustering and enhance B cell function,” the team said.


They found that DHA enhanced B cell activation and select antibody production – something Fenton and her colleagues suggested may aid immune responses associated with pathogen clearance, while possibly dampening the totality of the inflammatory response.


DHA supplementation was found to enhance LPS-induced B cell secretion of immune cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha and increase expression of CD40 compared with the control diet.


Supplementation also increased lymphoid tissue B cell populations and surface markers of activation, they said – adding that mice fed with DHA had significantly higher plasma IL-5, IL-13, and IL-9 (Th2- biasing cytokines) and cecal IgA compared with the control diet mice.

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