Immunomodulation by fish-oil containing lipid emulsions in murine acute respiratory distress syndrome

Crit Care. 2014 Apr 29;18(2):R85. doi: 10.1186/cc13850.


Introduction: Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a major cause of mortality in intensive care units. Patients with ARDS often require parenteral nutrition with lipid emulsions as essential components. Besides being an energy supply, these lipid emulsions might display differential modulatory effects on lung integrity and inflammation.

Methods: In a pre-emptive strategy, we investigated the impact of three different intravenously infused lipid emulsions on lung morphology, leukocyte invasion, protein leakage and cytokines in a murine model of ARDS. Mice received an infusion of normal saline solution, a pure long-chain triglycerides (LCT) emulsion, a medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) containing mixed emulsion (LCT/MCT), or a fish oil (FO) containing mixed emulsion (LCT/MCT/FO) before lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge.

Results: Mice pre-infused with fish oil-containing lipid emulsion showed decreased leukocyte invasion, protein leakage, myeloperoxidase activity, and cytokine production in their alveolar space after LPS challenge compared to mice receiving LCT or LCT/MCT. In line with these findings, lung morphology assessed by histological staining after LPS-induced lung injury improved faster in the LCT/MCT/FO group. Concerning the above mentioned parameters, no significant difference was observed between mice infused with LCT or the combination of LCT and MCT.

Conclusion: Fish oil-containing lipid emulsions might exert anti-inflammatory and pro-resolving effects in the murine model of acute lung injury. Partial replacement of n-6 fatty acids with n-3 fatty acids may thus be of benefit for critically ill patients at risk for ARDS which require parenteral nutrition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Fat Emulsions, Intravenous / administration & dosage*
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Immunomodulation / drug effects
  • Immunomodulation / physiology*
  • Leukocytes / drug effects
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / immunology*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / pathology


  • Fat Emulsions, Intravenous
  • Fish Oils