Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Nutr. 2009 Aug;139(8):1588-94. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.108027. Epub 2009 Jun 23.

Fish oil-fed mice have impaired resistance to influenza infection.

Author information

  • 1Department of Nutrition, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Dietary fish oils, rich in (n-3) PUFA, including eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, have been shown to have antiinflammatory properties. Although the antiinflammatory properties of fish oil may be beneficial during a chronic inflammatory illness, the same antiinflammatory properties can suppress the inflammatory responses necessary to combat acute viral infection. Given that (n-3) fatty acid-rich fish oil supplementation is on the rise and with the increasing threat of an influenza pandemic, we tested the effect of fish oil feeding for 2 wk on the immune response to influenza virus infection. Male C57BL/6 mice fed either a menhaden fish oil/corn oil diet (4 g fish oil:1 g corn oil, wt:wt at 5 g/100 g diet) or a control corn oil diet were infected with influenza A/PuertoRico/8/34 and analyzed for lung pathology and immune function. Although fish oil-fed mice had lower lung inflammation compared with controls, fish oil feeding also resulted in a 40% higher mortality rate, a 70% higher lung viral load at d 7 post infection, and a prolonged recovery period following infection. Although splenic natural killer (NK) cell activity was suppressed in fish oil-fed mice, lung NK activity was not affected. Additionally, lungs of infected fish oil-fed mice had significantly fewer CD8+ T cells and decreased mRNA expression of macrophage inflammatory protein-1-alpha, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and interleukin-6. These results suggest that the antiinflammatory properties of fish oil feeding can alter the immune response to influenza infection, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk