Effect of dietary supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids on bronchial hyperreactivity in subjects with seasonal asthma

Respiration. 1998;65(4):265-9. doi: 10.1159/000029274.


Dietary supplementation with omega-3 essential fatty acids results in the production of uniqe 5-lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase products which are biologically less active and may inhibit the production, or actions, of the eicosanoids produced when arachidonic acid is the substrate for 5-lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase, rather than omega-3 essential fatty acids. Since airway inflammation may play a central role in the pathophysiology of asthma, we studied the effect of omega-3 essential fatty acids on bronchial responsiveness in 7 atopic patients suffering from seasonal asthma due to airborne allergens, and positive to intracutaneous skin reaction to two or more allergens. Bronchial responsiveness to ultrasonically nebulized distilled water (UNDW) was determined 30 days from the initial ingestion of 3 g/day of omega-3 essential fatty acids and 30 days after stopping dietary supplementation. Flow volume curves and Raw were recorded before the provocation test, at the end of inhalation, and at 10-, 20-, 30- and 60-min intervals. The maximum fall in forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and the maximum increase in airway resistance (Raw) were chosen as the main outcome parameters. After 30 days of dietary supplementation, bronchial responsiveness to UNDW was significantly improved (in fact maximum fall in FEV1 was -11% vs. -28% before treatment, and maximum increase in Raw was +37% vs. +265% before treatment). The challenge test repeated 30 days after stopping dietary supplementation was the same as that recorded before treatment. The present data strongly suggest the hypothesis that dietary supplementation with omega-3 essential fatty acids could decrease bronchial hyperreactivity in atopic patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / prevention & control*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / complications
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / diagnosis
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / diet therapy*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patch Tests
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Seasons
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated