Different ratios of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic omega-3 fatty acids in commercial fish oils differentially alter pro-inflammatory cytokines in peritoneal macrophages from C57BL/6 female mice

J Nutr Biochem. 2007 Jan;18(1):23-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2006.02.005. Epub 2006 Mar 24.


The use of fish oil (FO) as a dietary supplement to prevent or reduce the severity of cardiovascular diseases and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis is receiving much attention. Several recent reports indicate that eating fish often or the use of small doses of FO capsules appears to have benefits against cardiovascular diseases. We have reported in the past that diets enriched with FO protect against renal diseases and prolong the life span of autoimmune-prone mice compared to corn oil (CO) diets. However, the optimum ratio of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in commercially available FOs to reduce the production of various pro-inflammatory cytokines has not been well established. We, therefore, obtained deodorized FO from three sources containing different EPA/DHA contents, fed them to C57BL/6 mice for 8 weeks in a 10% (vol/wt) diet (oil A, 11/10; oil B, 14/9; oil C, 23/14) and compared them with (10%) CO-fed mice as control. TNF-alpha, IL-6 and IL-1beta were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in thioglycollate-induced macrophages, 8 and 24 h after lipopolysaccharide treatment. The results showed a significant decrease in TNF-alpha after only 8 h in oil C. After 24 h, TNF-alpha, IL-6 and IL-1beta levels decreased only in mice fed oil C, although nonsignificant decreases were seen in mice fed oil A compared to mice fed CO. The antioxidant enzymes, catalase and glutathione transferase, were higher in kidneys of mice fed oil C compared to mice fed CO. The study suggests that anti-inflammatory activity may vary among different sources of FO due to variations in EPA/DHA content.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Cytokines / analysis*
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / analysis*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / analysis*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / analysis*
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Fish Oils / chemistry
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Interleukin-1beta / analysis
  • Interleukin-6 / analysis
  • Kidney / chemistry
  • Kidney / enzymology
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / chemistry*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis


  • Cytokines
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Glutathione Transferase