The delta 6 desaturase knock out mouse reveals that immunomodulatory effects of essential n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are both independent of and dependent upon conversion.J Nutr Biochem. 2016 06; 32:29-38.JN
Typically fatty acids (FA) exert differential immunomodulatory effects with n-3 [α-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] and n-6 [linoleic acid (LA) and arachidonic acid (AA)] exerting anti- and pro-inflammatory effects, respectively. This over-simplified interpretation is confounded by a failure to account for conversion of the parent FA (LA and ALA) to longer-chain bioactive products (AA and EPA/DHA, respectively), thereby precluding discernment of the immunomodulatory potential of specific FA. Therefore, we utilized the Δ6-desaturase model, wherein knockout mice (D6KO) lack the Fads2 gene encoding for the rate-limiting enzyme that initiates FA metabolism, thereby providing a model to determine specific FA immunomodulatory effects. Wild-type (WT) and D6KO mice were fed one of four isocaloric diets differing in FA source (9weeks): corn oil (LA-enriched), arachidonic acid single cell oil (AA-enriched), flaxseed oil (ALA-enriched) or menhaden fish oil (EPA/DHA-enriched). Splenic mononuclear cell cytokine production in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), T-cell receptor (TCR) and anti-CD40 stimulation was determined. Following LPS stimulation, AA was more bioactive compared to LA, by increasing inflammatory cytokine production of IL-6 (1.2-fold) and TNFα (1.3-fold). Further, LPS-stimulated IFNγ production in LA-fed D6KO mice was reduced 5-fold compared to LA-fed WT mice, indicating that conversion of LA to AA was necessary for cytokine production. Conversely, ALA exerted an independent immunomodulatory effect from EPA/DHA and all n-3 FA increased LPS-stimulated IL-10 production versus LA and AA. These data definitively identify specific immunomodulatory effects of individual FA and challenge the simplified view of the immunomodulatory effects of n-3 and n-6 FA.