Dietary fish oil and fish and borage oil suppress intrapulmonary proinflammatory eicosanoid biosynthesis and attenuate pulmonary neutrophil accumulation in endotoxic rats

Crit Care Med. 1997 Jul;25(7):1198-206. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199707000-00023.


Objective: Proinflammatory eicosanoids and cytokines are important mediators of local inflammation in acute lung injury. We determined if enteral nutrition with anti-inflammatory fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid, and gamma-linolenic acid would reduce the intrapulmonary synthesis of proinflammatory eicosanoids and cytokines and pulmonary neutrophil accumulation in a rat model of acute lung injury.

Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled, double-blind study.

Setting: Research laboratory at a university medical center.

Subjects: Male Long-Evans rats (250 g).

Interventions: Rats were randomly assigned to three dietary treatment groups and fed nutritionally complete diets (300 kcal/kg/day) containing 55.2% of the total calories from fat with either 97% corn oil, 20% fish oil, or 20% fish and 20% borage oil for 21 days. On day 22, bronchoalveolar lavage was performed 2 hrs after an intravenous injection of Salmonella enteritidis endotoxin (10 mg/kg) or saline. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid was analyzed for leukotriene B4, leukotriene C4/D4, thromboxane B2, prostaglandin E2, 6 keto-prostaglandin F1alpha, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, and macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2). Lung myeloperoxidase activity (a marker for neutrophil accumulation) and phospholipid fatty acid composition were also determined.

Measurements and main results: Lung phospholipid concentrations of arachidonic acid were lower and the concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid were higher with fish oil and fish and borage oil as compared with corn oil. Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, the desaturated and elongated intermediate of gamma-linolenic acid, increased with fish and borage oil as compared with fish oil and corn oil. The levels of leukotriene B4, leukotriene C4/D4, 6-keto-prostaglandin F1alpha, and thromboxane B2 with corn oil were significantly increased with endotoxin as compared with saline. In contrast to the corn oil group, endotoxin did not significantly increase bronchoalveolar lavage levels of leukotriene B4, leukotriene C4/D4, and thromboxane B2 above those of saline-treated rats with fish oil and fish and borage oil. Lung myeloperoxidase activity was significantly increased in endotoxin-treated rats compared with those rats given saline in all dietary treatment groups. However, lung myeloperoxidase activity was significantly lower with either fish oil or fish and borage oil as compared with corn oil after endotoxin. Although endotoxin increased the levels of TNF-alpha and MIP-2 with all dietary treatment groups as compared with saline-treated rats, there were no significant differences in the levels of either cytokine between the dietary treatment groups.

Conclusions: These results indicate that dietary fish oil and fish and borage oil as compared with corn oil may ameliorate endotoxin-induced acute lung injury by suppressing the levels of proinflammatory eicosanoids (but not TNF-alpha or MIP-2) in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and reducing pulmonary neutrophil accumulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / pharmacology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eicosanoids / biosynthesis*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology
  • Endotoxemia / physiopathology
  • Endotoxemia / therapy*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Lung Diseases / etiology
  • Lung Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Lung Diseases / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Neutrophils / physiology*
  • Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid / pharmacology


  • Cytokines
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Eicosanoids
  • Fish Oils
  • Phospholipids
  • Plant Oils
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • Peroxidase