Cold-pressed flaxseed oil reverses age-associated depression in a primary cell-mediated adaptive immune response in the mouse

Br J Nutr. 2006 Feb;95(2):230-3. doi: 10.1079/bjn20051647.


The objective of this investigation was to determine the influence of flaxseed oil on responses representative of primary humoral and cell-mediated adaptive immune competence in immunosenescent mice. Male and female C57BL/6J mice, 85 weeks old, were randomized between two complete purified diets differing only in oil source (cold-pressed safflower or flaxseed). After 8 weeks, humoral competence was assessed in six mice per group as the serum haemagglutinin titre to sheep red blood cells (SRBC) and cell-mediated competence was assessed, in an additional six mice per group, as the delayed hypersensitivity response to SRBC. A zero-time control group (88 weeks old) and a young adult positive control group (12 weeks old) were each tested similarly (six per immune response), revealing age-related depression in both antibody and cell-mediated competence at 88 weeks of age. After the 8-week experimental period, the antibody response of the two test groups of geriatric mice remained below the young adult level (P=0.04) and the cell-mediated response of the safflower oil group also continued to exhibit age-related depression (20 % of young adult level, P=0.0002). By contrast, the anti-SRBC delayed hypersensitivity response of the flaxseed group no longer differed from the response of the young adults but exceeded that of the safflower and zero-time control senescent groups (P=0.0002). Depression in primary cell-mediated competence, the most outstanding aspect of immunosenescence, can be addressed by means of a dietary source of 18 : 3n-3 without longer-chain PUFA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / immunology
  • Age Factors*
  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / drug effects*
  • Antibody Formation / immunology
  • Cold Temperature
  • Erythrocytes / immunology
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Female
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / immunology
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects*
  • Immunity, Cellular / immunology
  • Immunocompetence / drug effects*
  • Immunocompetence / immunology
  • Linseed Oil / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Random Allocation
  • Safflower Oil / immunology
  • Safflower Oil / therapeutic use


  • Fatty Acids
  • Safflower Oil
  • Linseed Oil