Impact of dietary fat on Th1/Th2 cytokine gene expression in the pancreas and gut of diabetes-prone BB rats

J Autoimmun. 1998 Feb;11(1):97-103. doi: 10.1006/jaut.1997.0179.


The effect of dietary n-3 or n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids on the development of autoimmune insulitis was analysed in diabetes-prone BB rats. Litter-matched groups of rats received a standard open formula NIH-07 (National Institutes of Health, NIH) diet enriched with 10% fish oil, 10% flaxseed oil or with 10% palm oil plus 2% cholesterol during the period of insulitis onset (50-70 days of age). Analysis of cytokine gene expression in pancreatic RNA revealed an increase of IFN-gamma and a decrease of IL-10 mRNA with onset of insulitis. When compared to unsupplemented NIH, none of the three fat-enriched diets depressed the rise of IFN-gamma gene expression or the influx of leukocytes into islets. However, all of the fat-enriched diets led to significantly higher IL-10 mRNA levels. Although a specific anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil was not seen in the pancreas, a clear shift of the Th1/Th2 cytokine mRNA ratio towards Th2 was seen in the gut-associated immune system. We conclude that diets high in fat support IL-10 without suppressing IFN-gamma gene expression in islet inflammation. A special anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil was not seen in pancreatic lesions of BB rats, although there was strong modulation of the IFN-gamma/IL-10 mRNA ratio in the gut associated immune system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / genetics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Intestine, Small / drug effects
  • Intestine, Small / immunology
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism*
  • Linseed Oil / administration & dosage
  • Organ Specificity / drug effects
  • Pancreas / drug effects
  • Pancreas / immunology
  • Pancreas / metabolism*
  • Peyer's Patches / drug effects
  • Peyer's Patches / immunology
  • Peyer's Patches / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred BB
  • Th1 Cells / drug effects
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism*
  • Th2 Cells / drug effects
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism*


  • Cytokines
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fish Oils
  • Linseed Oil