Background: Dietary fish oil, rich in n-3 fatty acids (n-3 FAs), e.g. docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), regulate inflammatory reactions by various mechanisms, e.g. gene activation. However, the effects of long-term treatment with DHA and EPA in humans, using genome wide techniques, are poorly described. Hence, our aim was to determine the effects of 6 mo of dietary supplementation with an n-3 FA preparation rich in DHA on global gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
Methods and findings: In the present study, blood samples were obtained from a subgroup of 16 patients originating from the randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled OmegAD study, where 174 Alzheimer disease (AD) patients received daily either 1.7 g of DHA and 0.6 g EPA or placebo for 6 months. In blood samples obtained from 11 patients receiving n-3 FA and five placebo, expressions of approximately 8000 genes were assessed by gene array. Significant changes were confirmed by real-time PCR. At 6 months, the n-3 FAs group displayed significant rises of DHA and EPA plasma concentrations, as well as up- and down-regulation of nine and ten genes, respectively, was noticed. Many of these genes are involved in inflammation regulation and neurodegeneration, e.g. CD63, MAN2A1, CASP4, LOC399491, NAIP, and SORL1 and in ubiqutination processes, e.g. ANAPC5 and UBE2V1. Down-regulations of ANAPC5 and RHOB correlated to increases of plasma DHA and EPA levels.
Conclusions: We suggest that 6 months of dietary n-3 FA supplementation affected expression of genes that might influence inflammatory processes and could be of significance for AD.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00211159.