Fish oil can boost the immune system

April 3, 2013 by
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

EPA DHA omega 3 fish oilFish oil rich in DHA and EPA is widely believed to help prevent disease by reducing inflammation, but until now, scientists were not entirely sure about its immune enhancing effects.

A new report appearing in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, helps provide clarity on this by showing that DHA-rich fish oil enhances B cell activity, a white blood cell. This discovery is important as it shows that fish oil doesn’t necessarily reduce the whole immune response in order to lower inflammation. Therefore it could help people with compromised immune systems.

“Fish oil may have immune enhancing properties that could benefit immunocompromised individuals,” said Jenifer Fenton, Ph.D., M.P.H., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

To make this discovery, researchers used two groups of mice. One group was fed a control diet, and the other was fed a diet supplemented with DHA-rich fish oil for five weeks. B cells were harvested from several tissues and then stimulated in culture. Researchers then looked for markers of B cell activation on the cell surface, B cell membrane changes, and B cell cytokine production. They found that DHA-enriched fish oil enhanced B cell activation and select antibody production, which may actually aid immune responses associated with pathogen clearance, while possibly dampening the totality of the inflammatory response.

“This work confirms similar findings on fish oil and B cells from our lab, and moves us one step closer to understanding the immune enhancing properties of EPA and DHA,” said S. Raza Shaikh, Ph.D., a researcher also involved in the work from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at East Carolina University.

Reference: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

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