Skip to main content

Effects of dietary lipids on immune function in a murine sensitisation model

  • Ruud Albers (a1), Marianne Bol (a2), Astrid Willems (a1), Cor Blonk (a1) and Raymond Pieters...

We have tested the effect of dietary fatty acids on aspects of innate and specific adaptive T helper (Th) 1- and Th2-driven immune responses in a murine sensitisation model using dinitrochlorobenzene as sensitiser. Six groups of fifteen BALB/c mice were fed diets containing 30 % fat (by energy) for 8 weeks. Diets were rich in saturated fatty acids, n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), or n-3 PUFA, each at a sufficient (11, 35 and 68 mg/kg) and a supplemented vitamin E level (1028, 1031 and 1030 mg/kg respectively). Feeding n-6 PUFA marginally decreased % phagocytosing cells at the low vitamin E level, but had no other effects on immune function. The n-3 PUFA diets decreased production of prostaglandin E2 while increasing oxidative burst and tumour necrosis factor α production. In addition adaptive Th1-driven responses (immunoglobulin, Ig)G2a, IgG2b, interferon-γ:interleukin 4) were decreased, whereas Th2-driven and mucosal immune responses were increased (IgE) or unaffected (IgG1, IgA). Combination with high levels of α-tocopherol did not affect the reduced prostaglandin E2 production, augmented the increase of tumour necrosis factor α production and tended to ameliorate the selective suppressive effects of n-3 PUFA on certain Th1-driven effects (interferon-γ:interleukin 4 ratio and IgG2a levels). We conclude that the sensitisation model appears useful for application in nutrition research. It allows a broad assessment of the effects of dietary intervention on various aspects of immune responsiveness, and as such provides a valuable model to assess, characterise and rank effects of foods and/or nutrients on a range of immune functions, including Th1–Th2 polarisation.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Effects of dietary lipids on immune function in a murine sensitisation model
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Effects of dietary lipids on immune function in a murine sensitisation model
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Effects of dietary lipids on immune function in a murine sensitisation model
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Dr Raymond Pieters, fax +31 10 460 5993, email
Hide All
Albers R, de Heer C, Bol M, Bleumink R, Seinen W & Pieters R (1998) Selective immunomodulation by the autoimmunity-inducing xenobiotics streptozotocin and HgCl2. European Journal of Immunology 28, 12331242.
Bayer EA & Wilchek M (2001) The use of avidin biotin complex as a tool in molecular biology. Methods in Biochemical Analysis 26, 145.
Bendich A (1999) Role of antioxidants in the maintenance of immune functions. In Natural Antioxidants in Human Health and Disease, pp. 447467 [Frei B, editor]. New York: Academic Press.
Black PN & Sharpe S (1997) Dietary fat and asthma: is there a connection? European Respiratory Journal 10, 612.
Blok WL, de Bruijn MF, Leenen PJ, Eling WM, Van Rooijen N, Stanley ER, Buurman WA & van der Meer JW (1996) Dietary n-3 fatty acids increase spleen size and postendotoxin circulating TNF in mice; role of macrophages, macrophage precursors, and colony-stimulating factor-1. Journal of Immunology 157, 55695573.
Bronson R, Birt D & Meydani SN (1999) Biomarkers as early predictors of long-term health status and human immune function. Nutrition Reviews 57, S7S12.
Calder PC (1997) n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids and cytokine production in health and disease. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 41, 203234.
Calder PC (1998) Dietary fatty acids and the immune system. Nutrition Reviews 56, S70S83.
Chandra RK (1997) Nutrition and the immune system: an introduction. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 66, 460S463S.
Cher DJ & Mosmann TR (1987) Two types of murine helper T cell clone. II Delayed-type hypersensitivity is mediated by TH1 clones. Journal of Immunology 138, 36883694.
Dewille JW, Fraker PJ & Romsos DR (1981) Effects of dietary fatty acids on delayed-type hypersensitivity in mice. Journal of Nutrition 111, 20392043.
Fritsche KL, Byrge M & Feng C (1999) Dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish oil reduce interleukin-12 and interferon-gamma production in mice. Immunology Letters 65, 167173.
Haby MM, Peat JK, Marks CB, Woolcock AJ & Leeder SR (2001) Asthma in preschool children: prevalence and risk factors. Thorax 56, 589595.
Han SN, Meydani M, Wu D, Bender BS, Smith DE, Vina J, Cao G, Prior RL & Meydani SN (2000 a) Effect of long-term dietary antioxidant supplementation on influenza virus infection. Journal of Gerontology 55, B496B503.
Han SN, Wu D, Ha WK, Beharka A, Smith DE, Bender BS & Meydani SN (2000 b) Vitamin E supplementation increases T helper 1 cytokine production in old mice infected with influenza virus. Immunology 100, 487493.
Hayek MG, Taylor SF, Bender BS, Han SN, Meydani M, Smith DE, Eghtesada S & Meydani SN (1997) Vitamin E supplementation decreases lung virus titers in mice infected with influenza. Journal of Infectious Diseases 176, 273276.
Hinds A & Sanders TA (1993) The effect of increasing levels of dietary fish oil rich in eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids on lymphocyte phospholipid fatty acid composition and cell-mediated immunity in the mouse. British Journal of Nutrition 69, 423429.
Jeffery NM, Sanderson P, Sherrington EJ, Newsholme EA & Calder PC (1996) The ratio of n-6 to n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the rat diet alters serum lipid levels and lymphocyte functions. Lipids 31, 737745.
Jolly CA & Fernandes G (1999) Diet modulates Th-1 and Th-2 cytokine production in the peripheral blood of lupus-prone mice. Journal of Clinical Immunology 19, 172178.
Lokesh BR, Sayers TJ & Kinsella JE (1990) Interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor synthesis by mouse peritoneal macrophages is enhanced by dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Immunology Letters 23, 281285.
Meydani SN & Beharka AA (1998) Recent developments in vitamin E and immune response. Nutrition Reviews 56, S49S58.
Moriguchi S, Kobayashi N & Kishino Y (1990) High dietary intakes of vitamin E and cellular immune functions in rats. Journal of Nutrition 120, 10961102.
Muggli R (1994) Physiological requirements of vitamin E as a function of the amount and type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics 75, 166168.
Pieters R & Albers R (1999) Assessment of autoimmunogenic potential of xenobiotics using the popliteal lymph node assay. Methods 19, 7177.
Prickett JD, Robinson DR & Bloch KJ (1982) Enhanced production of IgE and IgG antibodies associated with a diet enriched in eicosapentaenoic acid. Immunology 46, 819826.
Reeves PG, Nielsen FH & Fahey GC (1993) AIN-93 purified diets for laboratory rodents: final report of the American Institute of Nutrition ad hoc writing committee on the reformulation of the AIN-76A rodent diet. Journal of Nutrition 123, 19391951.
Sanderson P, Yaqoob P & Calder PC (1995) Effects of dietary lipid manipulation upon graft vs host and host vs graft responses in the rat. Cellular Immunology 164, 240247.
Tanaka J, Fujiwara H & Torisu M (1979) Vitamin E and immune response. I Enhancement of helper T cell activity by dietary supplementation of vitamin E in mice. Immunology 38, 727734.
Tijburg LB, Haddeman E, Kivits GA, Weststrate JA & Brink EJ (1997) Dietary linoleic acid at high and reduced dietary fat level decreases the faecal excretion of vitamin E in young rats. British Journal of Nutrition 77, 327336.
Tomobe YI, Morizawa K, Tsuchida M, Hibino H, Nakano Y & Tanaka Y (2000) Dietary docosahexaenoic acid suppresses inflammation and immunoresponses in contact hypersensitivity reaction in mice. Lipids 35, 6169.
van't Erve EH, Wijnand E, Bol M, Seinen W & Pieters RH (1998) The vehicle modulates cellular and humoral responses in contact hypersensitivity to oxazolone. Toxicological Sciences 44, 3945.
Van Zijverden M, van der PA, Bol M, Van Pinxteren FA, de Haar C, Penninks AH, Van Loveren H & Pieters R (2000) Diesel exhaust, carbon black, and silica particles display distinct Th1/Th2 modulating activity. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 168, 131139.
Wallace FA, Miles EA & Calder PC (2000) Activation state alters the effect of dietary fatty acids on pro-inflammatory mediator production by murine macrophages. Cytokine 12, 13741379.
Wallace FA, Miles EA, Evans C, Stock TE, Yaqoob P & Calder PC (2001) Dietary fatty acids influence the production of Th1- but not Th2-type cytokines. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 69, 449457.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 41 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 68 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.