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Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jan;71(1 Suppl):357S-60S.

n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids inhibit the antigen-presenting function of human monocytes.

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  • 1Diet, Health and Consumer Science Division, the Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7UA, United Kingdom. david.hughes@bbsrc.ac.uk

Abstract

Diets rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are associated with suppression of cell-mediated immune responses, but the mechanisms are unclear. We hypothesized that n-3 PUFAs can inhibit the function of human antigen-presenting cells. A prerequisite for this role of blood monocytes is the cell surface expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules [human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DR, -DP, and -DQ], aided by the presence of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and leukocyte function associated antigens 1 and 3. We showed previously that the n-3 PUFA eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) inhibits the expression of HLA-DR on unstimulated human monocytes in vitro, but that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) enhances its expression. However, both n-3 PUFAs suppress the expression of HLA-DR, HLA-DP, and ICAM-1 on interferon-gamma-activated monocytes. We also established that dietary fish-oil supplementation can inhibit the expression of these surface molecules on circulating human monocytes. We subsequently showed that when EPA and DHA were combined in the same ratio as is commonly found in fish-oil-supplement capsules (3:2), there was no significant effect in vitro on the expression of HLA-DR on unstimulated monocytes, but the expression on activated monocytes remained significantly inhibited. In the same in vitro system, the ability of activated monocytes to present antigen to autologous lymphocytes was significantly reduced after culture with the combined n-3 PUFAs. These findings provide one potential mechanism for the beneficial effect of fish oil in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, a disorder associated with elevated expression of MHC class II and adhesion molecules on monocytes present within affected joints.

PMID:
10617997
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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