n-3 fatty acids inhibit transcription of human IL-13: Implications for development of T helper type 2 immune responses

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  • Fish oil supplementation during pregnancy has been associated with lower levels of cord blood IL-13, suggesting that the administration of n-3 fatty acids may attenuate the development of allergic disease. The present study aimed to investigate the mechanism by which n-3 fatty acid administration influences the production of IL-13. Pregnant BALB/c mice were fed nutritionally complete high-fat diets (15 %, w/w) with an n-3 fatty acid-enriched (DHA 1 %, w/w) or control diet (0 % DHA) immediately following delivery. Pups were exposed during suckling and weaned to the maternal diet for the remainder of the study. The production of IL-13, IL-4, IL-10 and interferon-γ from the splenocytes of ovalbumin (ova)-sensitised animals was assessed following in vitro ova stimulation or unstimulated conditions. Human T helper type 2 (Th2) cells were mitogen-stimulated in the presence or absence of DHA (10 μm) and assessed for IL-13 and IL-4 expression using intracellular flow cytometry. The influence on transcriptional activation was studied using a human IL-13 promoter reporter construct and electromobility shift assay. Ova-activated splenocytes from DHA-fed mice produced less IL-13 (57·2 (se 21·7) pg/ml) and IL-4 (7·33 (se 3·4) pg/ml) compared with cells from the animals fed the control diet (161·5 (se 45·0), P< 0·05; 33·2 (se 11·8), P< 0·05). In vitro, DHA inhibited the expression of IL-13 protein from human Th2 cells as well as transcriptional activation and binding of the transcription factors cyclic AMP response element binding and activating transcription factor 2 to the human IL-13 promoter. These data indicate the potential of n-3 fatty acids to attenuate IL-13 expression, and suggest that they may subsequently reduce allergic sensitisation and the development of allergic disease.

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    © The Authors 2012
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    • MacLean, E., Madsen, N., Vliagoftis, H., Field, C. J., & Cameron, L. (2013). n-3 fatty acids inhibit transcription of human IL-13: Implications for development of T helper type 2 immune responses. British Journal of Nutrition, 109(6), 990-1000. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114512002917
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