Dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids suppress splenic CD4(+) T cell function in interleukin (IL)-10(-/-) mice.
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Our laboratory has demonstrated that down-regulation of proliferation and cytokine synthesis by CD4(+) T cells in mice fed diets rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) is highly dependent on the involvement of the co-stimulatory molecule, CD28. It has been reported that the inhibitory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10 acts directly on T cells which up-regulate IL-10 receptor (IL-10R) expression following stimulation via CD28 by efficiently blocking proliferation and cytokine production. Thus, it was hypothesized that dietary n-3 PUFA would suppress T cell function through the effects of IL-10. The proliferation of purified splenic CD4(+) T cells activated in vitro with anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 (alphaCD3/CD28) from conventional mice (C57BL/6) fed either a control corn oil (CO)-enriched diet devoid of n-3 PUFA, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22 : 6) or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20 : 5) for 14 days was suppressed by dietary DHA and EPA. Surprisingly, a similar trend was seen in IL-10 gene knock-out (IL-10(-/-)) mice fed dietary n-3 PUFA. IL-10R cell surface expression was also significantly down-regulated on CD4(+) T cells from both the C57BL/6 and IL-10(-/-) mice fed dietary n-3 PUFA after 72 h of in vitro stimulation with alphaCD3/CD28. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) measurements revealed that C57BL/6 mice fed DHA had significantly reduced interferon (IFN)-gamma and IL-10 levels 48 h post-activation. However, CD4(+) T cells from IL-10(-/-) mice fed dietary n-3 PUFA produced significantly greater levels of IFN-gamma than the CO-fed group. Our data suggest that in the absence of IL-10, CD4(+) T cells from n-3 PUFA-fed mice may up-regulate IFN-gamma. Suppressed CD4(+) T cells from n-3 PUFA-fed C57BL/6 mice may use mechanisms other than IL-10 to down-regulate T cell function.