Fatty acids and immune function: new insights into mechanisms

Br J Nutr. 2007 Oct;98 Suppl 1:S41-5. doi: 10.1017/S0007114507832995.


Fatty acids are known to play diverse roles in immune cells. They are important as a source of energy, as structural components of cell membranes, as signaling molecules and as precursors for the synthesis of eicosanoids and similar mediators. Recent research has suggested that the localization and organisation of fatty acids into distinct cellular pools has a direct influence on the behaviour of a number of proteins involved in immune cell activation, including those associated with T cell responses, antigen presentation and fatty acid-derived inflammatory mediator production. This article reviews these studies and places them in the context of existing literature in the field. These studies indicate the existence of several novel mechanisms by which altered fatty acid availability can modulate immune responses and impact upon clinical outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigen Presentation / immunology*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / immunology*
  • Fish Oils / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Membrane Microdomains / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Fish Oils
  • Inflammation Mediators