Dietary supplementation with n-3 fatty acids suppresses interleukin-2 production and mononuclear cell proliferation

J Leukoc Biol. 1993 Dec;54(6):599-603.


We studied the in vitro production of interleukin-2 in nine healthy volunteers who added 18 g/day of fish-oil concentrate rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to their normal Western diet for a period of 6 weeks. Interleukin-2 synthesis from stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells was suppressed from 6.2 ng/ml at baseline to 2.2 ng/ml 10 weeks after the end of n-3 fatty acid supplementation (65% decrease; P = .04). At the same time phytohemagglutinin-induced proliferation of mononuclear cells was suppressed by 70% from the presupplement level. Interleukin-2 production returned to the premedication level at the end of the studies. The results suggest that the effect of dietary n-3 fatty acids in some diseases may be mediated in part by decreased production of interleukin-2 and decreased mononuclear cell proliferation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Food, Fortified*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / blood
  • Interleukin-2 / metabolism*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / cytology*
  • Male
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-2
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha