British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Fatty acid composition of serum lipid classes in mice following allergic sensitisation with or without dietary docosahexaenoic acid-enriched fish oil substitution

Ralph Rühla1 c1, Christin Kocha2a3, Tamás Marosvölgyia4, Johanna Mihálya1, Florian J. Schweigerta3, Margitta Worma2 and Tamás Decsia4

a1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical and Health Science Centre, University of Debrecen, Nagyerdei Krt. 98, H-4012 Debrecen, Hungary

a2 Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Charité-Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany

a3 Department of Nutritional Physiology and Pathophysiology, Institute of Nutritional Science, University of Potsdam, Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Germany

a4 Department of Paediatrics, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary


Dietary fatty acids have been shown to influence allergic sensitisation. Both n-3 and n-6 PUFA are involved in targeted mediation of inflammatory responses during allergic sensitisation and manifestation of atopic diseases. In the present experiments we investigated whether supplementation of DHA-enriched fish oil partly substituting dietary sunflower-seed oil, in comparison with sunflower-seed oil, supplemented to mice influences fatty acid composition of serum lipid classes. The effects of the two different diets were also investigated depending on allergic sensitisation. Supplementation of DHA and EPA in doses of 2 and 0·12 % (w/w) to non-sensitised and sensitised mice resulted in significantly increased percentile contributions of DHA to all lipid classes. In contrast, serum values of the n-6 PUFA arachidonic acid (AA) were significantly lower, both in non-sensitised and sensitised mice fed the DHA-enriched diet. The fatty acid composition of serum lipids also reflected allergic sensitisation: the EPA:AA ratio in TAG, cholesteryl esters and phospholipids in non-supplemented animals fell to 23, 29 and 29 % respectively of the original value after allergic sensitisation, whereas it decreased to 70, 80 and 76 % respectively only in the animals supplemented with DHA. In summary, allergic sensitisation alone decreased significantly the EPA:AA ratios in serum TAG, while concomitant supplementation of DHA-enriched fish oil ameliorated this decrease. We postulate from the present results that the amelioration of the severity of allergic sensitisation after DHA supplementation may be linked to altered ratios of the eicosanoid precursors EPA and AA as well as DHA needed for further metabolic activation to pro- or anti-inflammatory bioactive lipids.

(Received June 19 2007)

(Revised October 01 2007)

(Accepted October 04 2007)

(Online publication November 16 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Ralph Rühl, fax +36 52 314 989, email


Abbreviations: AA, arachidonic acid; COX, cyclo-oxygenase; CTRL, control (basal diet); DHGLA, dihomo-γ-linolenic acid; LOX, lipo-oxygenase; OVA, ovalbumin