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BACKGROUND: Prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) inhibits lymphocyte proliferation and the production of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) by peripheral blood mononuclear cells, but the effect of PGE(2) on interleukin 4 (IL-4) production is unclear. Fish oil, which contains eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids, inhibits production of PGE(2). The effects of fish oil on lymphocyte proliferation and production of IFN-gamma and IL-4 are unclear and may be influenced by the availability of antioxidants. OBJECTIVE: We investigated the effect of dietary fish oil with and without antioxidant cosupplementation on lymphocyte proliferation and the production of PGE(2), IFN-gamma, and IL-4 by peripheral blood mononuclear cells. DESIGN: Sixteen healthy men received dietary fish-oil supplements providing 0.3, 1, and 2 g eicosapentaenoic acid plus docosahexaenoic acid/d for 4 consecutive weeks each (total of 12 wk). All subjects were randomly assigned to daily cosupplementation with either antioxidants (200 microg Se, 3 mg Mn, 30 mg RRR-alpha-tocopheryl succinate, 90 mg ascorbic acid, 450 micro g vitamin A) or placebo. RESULTS: Fish-oil supplementation decreased PGE(2) production and increased IFN-gamma production and lymphocyte proliferation from baseline values. Cosupplementation with antioxidants did not affect cytokine production or lymphocyte proliferation. CONCLUSION: Dietary fish oil modulates production of IFN-gamma and lymphocyte proliferation in a manner consistent with decreased production of PGE(2), but this effect is not modified by antioxidant cosupplementation.

Original publication




Journal article


Am j clin nutr

Publication Date





376 - 382


Adult, Antioxidants, Dietary Supplements, Dinoprostone, Docosahexaenoic Acids, Eicosapentaenoic Acid, Fatty Acids, Unsaturated, Fish Oils, Humans, Interleukin-4, Leukocytes, Mononuclear, Lymphocyte Activation, Male, Th1 Cells, Th2 Cells