DHA-enriched fish oil targets B cell lipid microdomains and enhances ex vivo and in vivo B cell function

J Leukoc Biol. 2013 Apr;93(4):463-70. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0812394. Epub 2012 Nov 24.


DHA is a n-3 LCPUFA in fish oil that generally suppresses T lymphocyte function. However, the effect of fish oil on B cell function remains relatively understudied. Given the important role of B cells in gut immunity and increasing human fish oil supplementation, we sought to determine whether DFO leads to enhanced B cell activation in the SMAD-/- colitis-prone mouse model, similar to that observed with C57BL/6 mice. This study tested the hypothesis that DHA from fish oil is incorporated into the B cell membrane to alter lipid microdomain clustering and enhance B cell function. Purified, splenic B cells from DFO-fed mice displayed increased DHA levels and diminished GM1 microdomain clustering. DFO enhanced LPS-induced B cell secretion of IL-6 and TNF-α and increased CD40 expression ex vivo compared with CON. Despite increased MHCII expression in the unstimulated ex vivo B cells from DFO-fed mice, we observed no difference in ex vivo OVA-FITC uptake in B cells from DFO or CON mice. In vivo, DFO increased lymphoid tissue B cell populations and surface markers of activation compared with CON. Finally, we investigated whether these ex vivo and in vivo observations were consistent with systemic changes. Indeed, DFO-fed mice had significantly higher plasma IL-5, IL-13, and IL-9 (Th2-biasing cytokines) and cecal IgA compared with CON. These results support the hypothesis and an emerging concept that fish oil enhances B cell function in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Colitis / diet therapy
  • Colitis / immunology
  • Colitis / metabolism
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal / drug effects*
  • Interleukin-13 / blood
  • Interleukin-13 / immunology
  • Interleukin-5 / blood
  • Interleukin-5 / immunology
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Interleukin-9 / blood
  • Interleukin-9 / immunology
  • Intestines / cytology
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Membrane Microdomains / drug effects*
  • Membrane Microdomains / metabolism
  • Membrane Microdomains / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Smad Proteins / deficiency
  • Smad Proteins / genetics
  • Th1-Th2 Balance / drug effects
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fish Oils
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-5
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-9
  • Smad Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • interleukin-6, mouse
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids