Fish Oil Boosts the Immune System
One of the many important benefits of eating fatty fish is obtaining fish oil, which is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent disease. Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which have been thought to reduce inflammation.
A new study published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, however shows that DHA-rich fish oil enhances immune function by increasing the activity of B cells (a type of white blood cells), challenging the concept that fish oil is only immunosuppressive. This new discovery is significant because it shows that fish oil does not only reduce one’s overall immune response to lower inflammation. This could possibly open doors for investigating the use of fish oil in patients with compromised immune systems.
For the study, the investigators used two groups of mice, where one group was given a control diet, and the other was treated with a diet supplemented with fish oil rich in DHA for five weeks. B cells which were harvested from several tissues were then stimulated in culture. Researchers identified markers of B cell activation on the cell surface, B cell cytokine (an inflammatory substance) production, and B cell membrane changes. They found that DHA-rich fish oil enhanced the activation of B cells and antibody production, which may boost immune responses against pathogens or harmful substances, while possibly reducing overall inflammatory response.
Jenifer Fenton, Ph.D., M.P.H., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan states that these results show that fish oil may enhance immune function and could benefit even immunocompromised patients.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Nothing fishy about it: Fish oil can boost the immune system. ScienceDaily.