Black currant seed oil supplementation of mothers enhances IFN-γ and suppresses IL-4 production in breast milk

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2013 Sep;24(6):562-6. doi: 10.1111/pai.12110.


Background: The first year of infancy is crucial for the development of atopic immune response. Inadequate early Th1 and Treg responses and increased production of Th2 cytokines are associated with atopy. Breast milk contains several immunomodulatory cytokines and other factors that might influence the maturation of the infant's immune system. We assessed the cytokines in breast milk of mother of newborn infants and their associations with black currant seed oil (BCSO) supplementation during pregnancy, mother's atopic status and the development of infant's atopic dermatitis.

Methods: Mothers and infants from an intervention study by black currant seed oil (n = 31) or olive oil as placebo (n = 30) were included in the study. Breast milk samples were collected during the first 3 months of breastfeeding. Breast milk levels of IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-12, IFN-γ and TNF were measured by Luminex technology.

Results: BCSO intervention group had decreased level of IL-4 (p = 0.044) and elevated level of IFN-γ (p = 0.014) in breast milk as compared to olive oil group. No significant differences were observed in IL-5, IL-10, IL-12 and TNF levels between the BCSO and olive oil groups. Mothers who had atopic dermatitis had significantly decreased levels of IL-10 (p = 0.044) in breast milk. Breast milk of the mothers of the children who developed atopic dermatitis had lower levels of IFN-γ (p = 0.039) as compared to the breast milk of the mothers of the children without dermatitis.

Conclusion: Dietary intervention with BCSO had immunomodulatory effects on breast milk cytokine production towards Th2 to Th1 immunodeviation.

Keywords: atopic dermatitis; breast milk; cytokines; fatty acids; intervention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / therapy*
  • Diet Therapy*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism*
  • Milk, Human / immunology
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*
  • Mothers
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Pregnancy
  • Ribes
  • Seeds
  • Th1-Th2 Balance / drug effects


  • Plant Oils
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma