Omega-3 fatty acids enhance ligament fibroblast collagen formation in association with changes in interleukin-6 production

Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 2000 Jan;223(1):88-95. doi: 10.1046/j.1525-1373.2000.22312.x.


Altering dietary ratios of n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) represents an effective nonpharmaceutical means to improve systemic inflammatory conditions. An effect of PUFA on cartilage and bone formation has been demonstrated, and the purpose of this study was to determine the potential of PUFA modulation to improve ligament healing. The effects of n-3 and n-6 PUFA on the in vitro healing response of medial collateral ligament (MCL) fibroblasts were investigated by studying the cellular coverage of an in vitro wound and the production of collagen, PGE2, IL-1, IL-6, and TNF. Cells were exposed to a bovine serum albumin (BSA) control or either eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) or arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6) in the form of soaps loaded onto BSA for 4 days and wounded on Day 5. AA and EPA improved the healing of an in vitro wound over 72 hr. EPA increased collagen synthesis and the overall percentage of collagen produced, but AA reduced collagen production and total protein. PGE2 production was increased in the AA-treated group and decreased in the EPA-treated group, but was not affected by wounding. IL-1 was not produced at the time point evaluated, but TNF and IL-6 were both produced, and their levels varied relative to the PUFA or wounding treatment. There was a significant linear correlation (r2 = 0.57, P = 0.0045) between IL-6 level and collagen production. These results demonstrate that n-3 PUFA (represented by EPA in this study) positively affect the healing characteristics of MCL cells and therefore may represent a possible noninvasive treatment to improve ligament healing. Additionally, these results show that MCL fibroblasts produce PGE2, IL-6, and TNF and that IL-6 production is related to MCL collagen synthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acid / pharmacology
  • Cattle
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen / biosynthesis*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / physiology
  • Interleukin-1 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis*
  • Ligaments / cytology
  • Ligaments / drug effects
  • Ligaments / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Prostaglandins / biosynthesis
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Swine
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Wound Healing


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Prostaglandins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Collagen
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid