Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Dietary components that reduce inflammation are associated with lower cancer risk. The long-chain omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is present in fish oil and has potent anti-inflammatory properties. The objective of this study is to determine whether dietary fish oil enriched with DHA (DFO) could reduce experimentally induced colitis and colon cancer risk in a mouse model. When SMAD3−/− mice are exposed to Helicobacter hepaticus, mild colitis is observed 4 weeks postinfection. Mice were fed isocaloric diets modified to include corn oil, safflower oil, or DFO (doses ranging from 0.75% to 6.00%) as the fatty acid source for 8 weeks. Mice were gavaged with H. hepaticus; DFO feeding was continued; and mice were sacrificed 4 weeks after infection. The colon and cecum were collected for histopathology. Spleens and mesenteric lymph nodes were collected and analyzed for T-cell populations using flow cytometry. Contrary to expectations, DFO induced severe colitis and adenocarcinoma formation. DFO consumption was associated with decreased CD8+ cell frequency and diminished CD69 expression on CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell populations. Mice consuming DFO also exhibited higher FoxP3+ CD25+ CD4+ T regulatory cell frequency, FoxP3 expression, and altered L-selectin expression during infection. We concluded that DFO-fed mice may be less equipped to mount a successful response to H. hepaticus infection, increasing colon cancer risk. These results support the need to establish a tolerable upper limit for DHA intake particularly in the context of chronic inflammatory conditions such as IBD. Cancer Res; 70(20); 7960–9. ©2010 AACR.
- Received April 19, 2010.
- Revision received June 14, 2010.
- Accepted July 20, 2010.
- ©2010 American Association for Cancer Research.