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Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2003 Mar;14(3):223-38.

Dietary docosahexaenoic acid is more optimal than eicosapentaenoic acid affecting the level of cellular defence responses of the juvenile grouper Epinephelus malabaricus.

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Institute of Marine Biology, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung 804, Taiwan.


The combined effects of dietary docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) acids on phagocytic, respiratory burst, and leucocyte proliferative activities of the juvenile grouper, Epinephelus malabaricus, were investigated. The test fish were fed for 12wk on test diets containing 1g 100g(-1) diet of DHA and EPA in combinations (DHA/EPA: 3/1, 2/1, 1/1, 0.7/1, 0.3/1). In addition to promoting fish growth, high dietary DHA/EPA ratio significantly enhanced phagocytic and respiratory burst activities of grouper head-kidney leucocytes compared with low ratio. Significant correlations were found between leucocyte phagocytic or respiratory burst activities and concentrations of 20:3(n-3), DHA and EPA in fish liver and muscle tissues. Leucocyte proliferation was significantly higher (P< 0.05) when the diets were high in DHA/EPA ratio than low in DHA/EPA ratio, when stimulated by Con A and PHA-P, but not by LPS. Tissue DHA concentrations and leucocyte proliferation were significantly and positively correlated. Fortification of dietary DHA, thus increased T-cell proliferation and phagocytic function of grouper leucocytes. DHA is the only member in the (n-3) highly unsaturated fatty acid family that stimulated phagocytic functions of leucocytes and T-cell proliferation, and is more optimal than EPA affecting the cellular defence responses of the E. malabaricus juveniles.

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