Fish Oil Shows Benefit in Asthma

Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Thursday, February 9th, 2017
Intake of high-quality fish oil may have beneficial effects in asthma, a study published in JCI Insight found.

In prior studies, the investigators discovered that certain fatty acids contained in fish oil regulate the function of B cells. Building upon those findings, the investigators wanted to examine the effects on asthma.

For the study, the investigators obtained blood from 17 patients with asthma at the UR Medicine’s Mary Parkes Asthma Center.

In the laboratory, they isolated the B immune cells to examine the impact of pure omega-3–derived products on IgE and other molecules that help fuel the disease. IgE antibodies cause allergic reactions and asthma symptoms in individuals with milder cases of asthma. The results were then compared with donors of healthy blood cells.

A majority of participants were taking corticosteroids either in pill form or with an inhaler. The results of the study showed that all of the patients responded to the omega-3 fatty acids to some degree, which was demonstrated by a reduction in the levels of IgE antibodies.

However, patients with severe asthma who used high doses or oral steroids, found that the omega-3 fatty acids were less effective because the corticosteroids block the beneficial effects.
The investigators advised that individuals should use caution when buying fish because not all fish oil is of the same quality.

“You really need high-quality, standardized material that’s been processed and stored correctly before comparing results from one study to another study,” Phipps. “Our study used the pure, biologically active products in fish oil, known as 17-HDHA, and we’ve provided a clear line of evidence for why intake of high-quality fish oil is good.”

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