Docosahexanoic acid diet supplementation attenuates the peripheral mononuclear cell inflammatory response to exercise following LPS activation

Cytokine. 2014 Oct;69(2):155-64. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2014.05.026. Epub 2014 Jun 19.


Exercise induces changes in circulating pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. The aim was to investigate the effect of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) diet supplementation on the plasma cytokine levels and on the peripheral mononuclear (PBMCs) cells cytokine production after a training season or an acute bout of exercise. Fifteen male soccer players were randomly assigned to a placebo or an experimental group. The experimental group consumed an almond-based beverage enriched with DHA, whereas the placebo group consumed the same beverage without DHA. Three blood samples were taken: in basal conditions at the beginning of the nutritional intervention and after eight weeks of training season in basal and post-exercise conditions. The DHA content increased in erythrocytes after 8weeks of training and supplementation. Neither diet supplementation with DHA nor training season altered the basal plasma cytokines and growth factors. Only acute exercise significantly increased plasma IL6 in experimental and placebo groups. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) activation induced the inflammatory response in PBMCs, with a significant production rate of TNFα, IL6 and IL8 mainly after acute exercise. DHA supplementation significantly reduced the rate of TNFα and IL6 production by stimulated PBMCs. Acute exercise increased the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) protein levels in PBMCs, although the increase was only statistically significant in the placebo group. In conclusion, a training season does not induce significant changes in the circulating cytokine profile in well-trained soccer players. Exercise increases the PBMCs cell capabilities to produce cytokines after TLR4 stimulation with LPS and this rate of cytokine production is attenuated by diet DHA supplementation.

Keywords: Cytokines; Docosahexaenoic acid; Training.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Beverages
  • Cell Count
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / blood
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / pathology*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Cytokines
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • TLR4 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids