Immunomodulatory effects of (n-3) fatty acids: Putative link to inflammation and colon cancer
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Chronic inflammation and colorectal cancer are closely linked. Although the overall mechanisms of inflammation-associated gastrointestinal carcinogenesis are complex, it is clear that antiinflammatory therapy is efficacious against neoplastic progression and malignant conversion. From a dietary perspective, fish oil containing (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) has antiinflammatory properties, but for years the mechanism has remained obscure. Of relevance to the immune system in the intestine, we showed that (n-3) PUFA feeding alters the balance between CD4+ T-helper (Th1 and Th2) subsets by directly suppressing Th1 cell development (i.e., clonal expansion). This is noteworthy because Th1 cells mediate inflammatory diseases and resistance to intracellular pathogens or allergic hypersensitivity, and Th2 cells mediate resistance to extracellular pathogens. Therefore, any changes induced by (n-3) PUFAs in T-cell subset balance and function are important because the outcome is expected to suppress the development of autoimmune diseases and possibly the occurrence of colon cancer. Precisely how the immunomodulatory effects of (n-3) PUFAs influence inflammation-associated colonic tumor development is the subject of an ongoing investigation. 2007 American Society for Nutrition.