The effect of supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on markers of oxidative stress in elderly exposed to PM(2.5)

Environ Health Perspect. 2008 Sep;116(9):1237-42. doi: 10.1289/ehp.10578.


Background: The mechanisms of particulate matter (PM)-induced health effects are believed to involve inflammation and oxidative stress. Increased intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) appears to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Objective: As part of a trial to evaluate whether n-3 PUFA supplementation could protect against the cardiac alterations linked to PM exposure, we measured biomarkers of response to oxidative stimuli [copper/zinc (Cu/Zn) superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, lipoperoxidation (LPO) products, and reduced glutathione (GSH)] and evaluated the impact of supplementation on plasma levels.

Methods: We recruited residents from a nursing home in Mexico City chronically exposed to PM < or = 2.5 microm in aerodynamic diameter (PM(2.5)) and followed them from 26 September 2001 to 10 April 2002. We randomly assigned subjects in a double-blind fashion to receive either fish oil (n-3 PUFA) or soy oil. We measured PM(2.5) levels indoors at the nursing home, and measured Cu/Zn SOD activity, LPO products, and GSH at different times during presupplementation and supplementation phases.

Results: Supplementation with either fish or soy oil was related to an increase of Cu/Zn SOD activity and an increase in GSH plasma levels, whereas exposure to indoor PM(2.5) levels was related to a decrease in Cu/Zn SOD activity and GSH plasma levels.

Conclusion: Supplementation with n-3 PUFA appeared to modulate the adverse effects of PM(2.5) on these biomarkers, particularly in the fish oil group. Supplementation with n-3 PUFA could modulate oxidative response to PM(2.5) exposure.

Keywords: PM2.5; biological markers; omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA); oxidative stress.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Particle Size


  • Air Pollutants
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Glutathione