Fish Oil Derived Omega 3 Fatty Acids Suppress Adipose NLRP3 Inflammasome Signaling in Human Obesity

J Endocr Soc. 2018 Dec 24;3(3):504-515. doi: 10.1210/js.2018-00220. eCollection 2019 Mar 1.


Context: The NRLP3 inflammasome is a multiprotein danger-sensing complex that serves as a critical link between obesity-related adipose inflammation and insulin resistance and has been shown in animal models to be inhibited by fish oil-derived long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA).

Objective: We conducted a clinical trial and in vitro experiments to test our hypothesis that n-3 PUFA suppress NLRP3 inflammasome in human obesity through downregulation of inflammasome gene expression in adipocytes and macrophages.

Design: Placebo-controlled clinical trial and in vitro coculture experiments with primary human adipocytes (from biopsy specimens) and human THP-1 monocyte-derived macrophages treated with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and/or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) vs vehicle control.

Setting: General community, research laboratory.

Patients and other participants: Obese (body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2), nondiabetic males and females age 18 to 50. N = 25.

Interventions: Clinical trial: Eight-week treatment with 4 g Lovaza (EPA and DHA) or placebo. Cells culture: EPA and/or DHA at 100 µg/mL or vehicle control in culture medium.

Main outcome measures: Adipose tissue or adipocyte/macrophage mRNA expression of IL-1β and IL-18 and circulating IL-18 levels.

Results: Treatment of obese human subjects with fish oil supplements reduced expression of adipose inflammatory genes including inflammasome-associated IL-18 and IL-1β and circulating IL-18 levels. Both EPA and DHA reduced inflammasome gene expression in obese human adipose and human adipocyte and macrophages.

Conclusions: N-3 PUFA reduce NLRP3 inflammasome in human adipose through downregulation of gene expression in adipocytes and monocytes/macrophages and has potential as nutritional therapeutic agent in prevention of obesity-related inflammation.

Keywords: adipose; inflammation; nutrition; obesity.