Journal: Fish Physiology & Biochemistry, vol. 43, p. 1065–1080, 2017
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Open Access: none
The shortage of the n-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on the international markets has led to increasing substitution of fish oil by plant oils in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) feed and thereby reducing the EPA and DHA content in salmon. However, the minimum required levels of these fatty acids in fish diets for securing fish health are unknown. Fish were fed with 0, 1 or 2% EPA or DHA alone or in combination of both over a period, growing from 50 to 400 g. Primary head kidney leucocytes were isolated and stimulated with Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands to determine if EPA and DHA deficiency can affect expression of important immune genes and eicosanoid production. Several genes related to viral immune response did not vary between groups. However, there was a tendency that the high-level EPA and DHA groups expressed lower levels of IL-1β in non-stimulated leucocytes. These leucocytes were also more responsive to the TLR ligands, inducing higher expression levels of IL-1β and Mx1 after stimulation. The levels of prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4 in serum and media from stimulated leucocytes were lower in both low and high EPA and DHA groups. In conclusion, leucocytes from low EPA and DHA groups seemed to be less responsive towards immunostimulants, like TLR ligands, indicating that low levels or absence of dietary EPA and DHA may have immunosuppressive effects.