Effect of dietary enrichment with eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids on in vitro neutrophil and monocyte leukotriene generation and neutrophil function

N Engl J Med. 1985 May 9;312(19):1217-24. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198505093121903.


The effects of dietary fish-oil fatty acids on the function of the 5-lipoxygenase pathway of peripheral-blood polymorphonuclear leukocytes and monocytes were determined in seven normal subjects who supplemented their usual diet for six weeks with daily doses of triglycerides containing 3.2 g of eicosapentaenoic acid and 2.2 g of docosahexaenoic acid. The diet increased the eicosapentaenoic acid content in neutrophils and monocytes more than sevenfold, without changing the quantities of arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. When the neutrophils were activated, the release of [3H]arachidonic acid and its labeled metabolites was reduced by a mean of 37 per cent, and the maximum generation of three products of the 5-lipoxygenase pathway was reduced by more than 48 per cent. The ionophore-induced release of [3H]arachidonic acid and its labeled metabolites from monocytes in monolayers was reduced by a mean of 39 per cent, and the generation of leukotriene B4 by 58 per cent. The adherence of neutrophils to bovine endothelial-cell monolayers pretreated with leukotriene B4 was inhibited completely, and their average chemotactic response to leukotriene B4 was inhibited by 70 per cent, as compared with values determined before the diet was begun and six weeks after its discontinuation. We conclude that diets enriched with fish-oil-derived fatty acids may have antiinflammatory effects by inhibiting the 5-lipoxygenase pathway in neutrophils and monocytes and inhibiting the leukotriene B4-mediated functions of neutrophils.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arachidonic Acids / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte / drug effects
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Leukotriene B4 / metabolism*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Lipoxygenase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Membrane Fluidity
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / drug effects*
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / physiology
  • Triglycerides / administration & dosage


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Fish Oils
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides
  • Leukotriene B4
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • Lipoxygenase