Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on serum levels of T-helper cytokines in children with asthma

Cytokine. 2016 Sep:85:61-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2016.06.002. Epub 2016 Jun 9.


Background: There has been a considerable interest in the potential therapeutic value of dietary supplementation with ω-3 fatty acids in patients with asthma.

Objectives: This cross-sectional study was designed to identify the effect of ω-3 fatty acids on symptom score, pulmonary function and serum T-helper cytokine concentrations in children with mild to moderate persistent asthma.

Methods: A total of 39 patients among 50 volunteers completed this 3-month study. They took a soft gel capsule containing 180mg EPA and 120mg DHA daily. Pulmonary function was evaluated in 28 eligible patients by spirometry, and serum levels of Th1, Th2, Th9, Th17 and Th22 cytokines were measured by multiplex cytometric bead assay before and after treatment.

Results: After treatment with ω-3, symptom score improved in 28 (72%) patients. The results of spirometry showed remarkable improvement in FEV1/FVC (P=0.044) and PEF (P<0.0001) after treatment, but considering a cut-off of 80%, real improvement was observed in 32% of patients with PEF<80% which raised above the cut-off after ω-3 treatment (P=0.004) whereas, FEV1/FVC changes were above the cut-off value in 89% of the patients. After treatment, IL-17A and TNF-α levels decreased significantly (both P=0.049).

Conclusion: Oral administration of natural anti-inflammatory products such as ω-3 is a promising complementary approach to managing asthma.

Keywords: Asthma; Cytokines; Cytometric bead assay; Lung function; Omega-3.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / blood*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-17 / blood
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Male
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Interleukin-17
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha