The effect of fish-oil supplementation (FO-S) on the immune responses of elite swimmers was investigated. In a randomized placebo-controlled trial, swimmers received either fish-oil capsules (n=10) containing long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (FA) of n-3 (LCPUFA n-3) or placebo capsules (n=10), both for 6 weeks. Plasma FA, immunological markers, insulin and cortisol were evaluated.

The FO-S resulted in an increase in LCPUFA n-3 and a decrease in arachidonic n-6 FA in plasma and a reduction in the production of interferon-gamma by cultured cells. A reduction in the production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha was observed in both groups.
An increase in interleukin-2 production and no significant difference in interleukin-4 were also observed.

FO-S was able to attenuate the exercise-induced increases in prostaglandin E2. Circulating concentrations of insulin did not change, while cortisol and glucose showed increase after the study period. These results suggest that FO-S influence exercise-associated immune responses in competitive swimmers.