EPA/DHA dietary supplementation attenuates exercise-induced bronchoconstriction in physically active asthmatic males

Asthma is a common and prevalent health problem, globally affecting over 300 million individuals. Observational and intervention studies have shown beneficial effects of omega-3 [Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] on asthma and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). Due to health side effects with pharmacological medication, use of complementary therapies including omega-3 supplementation is gaining impetus. A double-blinded randomised crossover pilot study with 3 weeks of supplementation (3.2 g EPA and 2.2 g DHA or placebo) was conducted to assess the effect of omega-3 supplementation in physically active males with EIB (n = 9, 21 ± 0.9 years, Forced Expiratory Volume in 1-s/Forced Vital Capacity (FEV1/FVC) = 77 ± 1.4). At the start of study, participants showed abnormal lung function, typical drop of >10% in their FEV1 following exercise-challenge tests; elevated levels of Exhaled-breath Nitric oxide, FeNO (>40 ppb). The 3-week supplementation resulted in a significant improvement in post-exercise pulmonary function (PF) (<10% drop in post-exercise FEV1/FVC), supported by significant reduction in serum IL-6 levels (37% reduction). Although no significant changes were observed for Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell (PBMC) total lipid composition for EPA/DHA, non-significant increase in total PBMC EPA/DHA with reduction in omega-6 fatty acid (Arachidonic Acid) was observed. This pilot study shows a beneficial effect of 3 weeks of omega-3 supplementation on PF for EIB-participants.