Fish oil enhances intestinal integrity and inhibits TLR4 and NOD2 signaling pathways in weaned pigs after LPS challenge

J Nutr. 2012 Nov;142(11):2017-24. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.164947. Epub 2012 Sep 26.


Long-chain (n-3) PUFA exert beneficial effects on inflammatory bowel diseases in animal models and clinical trials. In addition, pattern recognition receptors such as toll-like receptors (TLR) and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain proteins (NOD) play a critical role in intestinal inflammation. We hypothesized that fish oil could alleviate Escherichia coli LPS-induced intestinal injury via modulation of TLR4 and NOD signaling pathways. Twenty-four weaned piglets were used in a 2 × 2 factorial design and the main factors included a dietary treatment (5% corn oil or 5% fish oil) and immunological challenge (LPS or saline). After feeding fish oil or corn oil diets for 21 d, pigs were injected with LPS or saline. At 4 h postinjection, blood samples were collected and pigs were killed. EPA, DHA, and total (n-3) PUFA were enriched in intestinal mucosa through fish supplementation. Fish oil improved intestinal morphology, indicated by greater villus height and villus height:crypt depth ratio, and intestinal barrier function, indicated by decreased plasma diamine oxidase (DAO) activity and increased mucosal DAO activity as well as enhanced protein expression of intestinal tight junction proteins including occludin and claudin-1. Moreover, fish oil decreased intestinal TNFα and PGE(2) concentrations and caspase-3 and heat shock protein 70 protein expression. Finally, fish oil downregulated the mRNA expression of intestinal TLR4 and its downstream signals myeloid differentiation factor 88, IL-1 receptor-associated kinase 1, TNFα receptor-associated factor 6, and NOD2, and its adaptor molecule, receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 2. Fish oil decreased the protein expression of intestinal NFκB p65. These results indicate that fish oil supplementation is associated with inhibition of TLR4 and NOD2 signaling pathways and concomitant improvement of intestinal integrity under an inflammatory condition.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis
  • Animals
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / chemistry
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / metabolism
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / chemistry
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / genetics
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Intestinal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Intestinal Diseases / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity*
  • Nod2 Signaling Adaptor Protein / genetics
  • Nod2 Signaling Adaptor Protein / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Swine / metabolism*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / metabolism*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Nod2 Signaling Adaptor Protein
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid