Pulmonary delivery of docosahexaenoic acid mitigates bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis

Hongyun Zhao, Yee Chan-Li, Samuel L. Collins, Yuan Zhang, Robert W. Hallowell, Wayne Mitzner, Maureen Horton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Pulmonary fibrosis is an untreatable, fatal disease characterized by excess deposition of extracellular matrix and inflammation. Although the etiology of pulmonary fibrosis is unknown, recent studies have implicated dysregulated immune responses and wound healing. Since n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) may beneficially modulate immune responses in a variety of inflammatory disorders, we investigated the therapeutic role of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a single n-3 PUFA, in lung fibrosis.Methods: Intratracheal DHA or PBS was administered to mouse lungs 4 days prior to intratracheal bleomycin treatment. Body weight and survival were monitored for 21 days. Bronchoalveolar fluid (BALF) and lung inflammatory cells, cytokines, eicosanoids, histology and lung function were determined on serial days (0, 3, 7, 14, 21) after bleomycin injury.Results: Intratracheal administration of DHA mitigated bleomycin-induced lung injury. Mice pretreated with DHA had significantly less weight loss and mortality after bleomycin injury. The lungs from DHA-pretreated mice had markedly less fibrosis. DHA pretreatment also protected the mice from the functional changes associated with bleomycin injury. Bleomycin-induced cellular inflammation in BALF and lung tissue was blunted by DHA pretreatment. These advantageous effects of DHA pretreatment were associated with decreased IL-6, LTB4, PGE2 and increased IL-10.Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that intratracheal administration of DHA, a single PUFA, protected mice from the development of bleomycin-induced pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis. These results suggest that further investigations regarding the role of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in fibrotic lung injury and repair are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number64
JournalBMC pulmonary medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 18 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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