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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2000 Dec;89(6):2401-6.

N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids do not affect cytokine response to strenuous exercise.

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The Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, DK-2200 Copenhagen, Denmark.


The aim of the present study was to investigate whether fish oil supplementation was able to modulate the acute-phase response to strenuous exercise. Twenty male runners were randomized to receive supplementation (n = 10) with 6.0 g fish oil daily, containing 3.6 g n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), for 6 wk or to receive no supplementation (n = 10) before participating in The Copenhagen Marathon 1998. Blood samples were collected before the race, immediately after, and 1.5 and 3 h postexercise. The fatty acid composition in blood mononuclear cells (BMNC) differed between the fish oil-supplemented and the control group, showing incorporation of n-3 PUFA and less arachidonic acid in BMNC in the supplemented group. The plasma levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-6, and transforming growth factor-beta(1) peaked immediately after the run, the increase being 3-, 92-, and 1.1-fold, respectively, compared with resting samples. The level of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist peaked 1.5 h after exercise, with the increase being 87-fold. However, the cytokine levels did not differ among the two groups. Furthermore, supplementation with fish oil did not influence exercise-induced increases in leucocytes and creatine kinase. In conclusion, 6 wk of fish oil supplementation had no influence on the acute-phase response to strenuous exercise.

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