Oral administration of unsaturated fatty acids: effects on human peripheral blood T lymphocyte proliferation

J Leukoc Biol. 1997 Oct;62(4):438-43. doi: 10.1002/jlb.62.4.438.


Oils enriched in certain polyunsaturated fatty acids suppress joint pain and swelling in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. Because T lymphocyte activation is important to propagation of joint tissue injury in patients with RA, we examined the effects of fatty acids administered by mouth in vivo on proliferation of human lymphocytes activated through the T cell receptor complex. T cell proliferation was reduced after oral administration of 2.4 g gammalinolenic acid in capsules of borage seed oil. Oral administration of oils enriched in linoleic acid, the parent n-6 fatty acid, and alpha linolenic acid, the parent n-3 fatty acid, did not influence growth of stimulated cells. Fatty acid analyses indicated that suppression of lymphocyte proliferation after gammalinolenic acid administration was associated with increased plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cell concentrations of gammalinolenic acid and dihomogammalinolenic acid.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Flax
  • Helianthus
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects*
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Safflower Oil / administration & dosage
  • Safflower Oil / pharmacology
  • Sunflower Oil
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Time Factors
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Plant Oils
  • Sunflower Oil
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid
  • Safflower Oil
  • borage oil