Long-term flaxseed oil supplementation diet protects BALB/c mice against Streptococcus pneumoniae infection

Med Microbiol Immunol. 2010 Feb;199(1):27-34. doi: 10.1007/s00430-009-0132-7. Epub 2009 Nov 17.


Intense host immune response to infection contributes significantly to the pathology of pneumococcal pneumonia. Therefore, the regulation of host immune response is critical for the successful outcome of pneumonia in such patients. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of n-3 PUFA, i.e. flaxseed oil supplementation for short (4 weeks) as well as long (9 weeks) term, on the course of S. pneumoniae D39 serotype 2 infection in mice. The efficacy of flaxseed oil supplementation was investigated in terms of survival of animals and production of various inflammatory molecules (malondialdehyde, myeloperoxidase, nitric oxide) in the lung homogenate of animals. This was correlated with bacteriological and histopathological parameters. The immunomodulation was studied in terms of cytokines in the lungs following infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae. Results suggest that long-term flaxseed supplementation protected the mice against bacterial colonization of lungs with Streptococcus pneumoniae with reduced histopathological involvement of lung tissue. Moderate pneumonia was observed in supplemented, infected mice compared to severe pneumonia seen in control mice. This was accompanied by decreased inflammatory markers (malondialdehyde, myeloperoxidase, nitric oxide) as the disease progressed. In addition, difference in the levels of pro-inflammatory (TNF-alpha and IL-1beta) and anti-inflammatory (IL-10) cytokines was observed in the flaxseed fed animals. On the contrary, short-term supplementation did not show such an effect on lung colonization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Diet / methods*
  • Immunologic Factors / administration & dosage*
  • Inflammation Mediators / analysis
  • Linseed Oil / administration & dosage*
  • Lung / chemistry
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Pneumococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / pathology
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / drug effects*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / immunology
  • Survival Analysis


  • Cytokines
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Linseed Oil