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Clin Exp Immunol. 2000 Feb;119(2):287-92.

Fish oil feeding enhances lymphocyte proliferation but impairs virus-specific T lymphocyte cytotoxicity in mice following challenge with influenza virus.

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Discipline of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia.


The effect of a fish oil diet on virus-specific cytotoxicity and lymphocyte proliferation was investigated. Mice were fed fish oil (17 g fish oil and 3 g sunflower/100 g) or beef tallow (17 g tallow and 3 g sunflower/100 g) diets for 14 days before intranasal challenge with influenza virus. At day 5 after infection, lung virus-specific T lymphocyte, but not macrophage or natural killer (NK) cell, cytotoxicity was significantly lower in mice fed fish oil, while bronchial lymph node cell proliferation to virus was significantly higher. In mice fed fish oil, spleen cell proliferation to virus was also significantly higher following immunization. The results showed that, despite improved lymphocyte proliferation, fish oil impairs primary virus-specific T lymphocyte cytotoxicity. This impairment may explain the delayed virus clearance that we have previously reported in infected mice fed the fish oil diet.

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