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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1995 May 24;1236(1):39-50.

Docosahexaenoic acid-induced alteration of Thy-1 and CD8 expression on murine splenocytes.

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Department of Biology, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, IN 46202-5132, USA.


Here we test whether the incorporation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6), an (n-3) fatty acid, into lymphocyte membranes affects the expression of the surface proteins Thy-1.2 and CD8. DHA was incorporated into splenocytes by three methods: feeding mice diets containing menhaden (fish) oil, fusing splenocytes with DHA-containing phosphatidylcholine vesicles, and culturing splenocytes with DHA. Thy-1.2 and CD8 expression were measured by flow cytometry and complement-mediated lysis using a panel of monoclonal antibodies. As (n-3) fatty acid incorporation into the lymphocytes increased, the expression of one Thy-1.2 epitope and one CD8 epitope decreased; the expression of two CD8 epitopes increased. Although diet-induced changes in surface protein expression may result from selective migration of cell populations or the diet's effect on protein biosynthesis, fusion with lipid vesicles demonstrated that DHA-containing phospholipids can mediate a direct and immediate effect. The decrease in Thy-1.2 expression was sustained for more than a week after removal of (n-3) fatty acids from the diet, most likely due to retention of membrane-bound (n-3) fatty acids. Because Thy-1.2 and CD8 participate in T cell activation, modulation of their expression by DHA suggests that DHA, when serving as a membrane structural element, may alter immune function.

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