Fish oil may bolster immune responses, study asserts

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Jennifer Fenton, Ph.D.
Jennifer Fenton, Ph.D.

In another boost for fish oil, a study has found it enhances the function of B cells, which can benefit immunocompromised individuals.

When conducting a study on mice, researchers found that the group that had a rich fish oil diet for five weeks had enhanced B cell activation and select antibody production. This means the fish oil may help the immune response associated with pathogen clearance and dampen the overall inflammatory response.

“Fish oil may have immune-enhancing properties that could benefit immunocompromised individuals,” said Jenifer Fenton, Ph.D., of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University.

The study contradicts previous studies that suggested fish oil could suppress the body's immune response. B cells play an important role in gut immunity, the authors wrote. Fish oil also can reduce triglyceride levels.

The study “confirms similar findings on fish oil and B cells from our lab, and moves us one step closer to understanding the immune-enhancing properties of EPA and DHA,” said S. Raza Shaikh, Ph.D., a researcher at East Carolina University. DHA is docosahexaenoic acid and EPA is eicosapentaenoic acid; both are omega-3 fatty acids.

Results appeared in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.