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Krill Oil May Delay the Onset and Progression of Autoimmune Disease

A study published in the journal Lipids in 1994, reported on research done at the Department of Medicine, University of Texas Health Center in San Antonio. Results of this animal study suggest that krill oil may delay the onset and progression of autoimmune disease, though this has yet to be proven in humans.


Menhaden fish oil (FO) and Krill Oil, both containing n-3 fatty acids dramatically extends the life span and delays the onset and progression of autoimmune disease in New Zealand hybrid (NZBxNZW)F1 (B/W) female mice as compared to those fed corn oil (CO) rich in n-6 lipids. As an inefficient antioxidant defense system has been linked to autoimmune diseases, the present study was undertaken to determine whether the protective action of n-3 lipids is mediated through their antioxidant defense system.

Weanling B/W mice were fed a nutritionally adequate, semipurified diet containing corn oil or krill oil (KO) or fish oil at 10% level (w/w) ad libitum until the mice were 6.5 months old. All diets contained the same level of vitamin E (21.5 mg/100 g diet). We compared the effects of feeding n-6 and n-3 lipids on survival, kidney disease, hepatic microsomal lipid composition, peroxidation, and on the activity and mRNA expression of the antioxidant enzymes catalase, glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) in 6.5-month-old B/W mice.

The results showed that when compared to livers from corn oil-fed mice, livers from krill oil- and fish oil-fed mice showed: (i) significantly higher (P < 0.001) activities and expression of CAT, GSH-Px and SOD; (ii) significantly lower (P < 0.001) arachidonic acid (20:4n-6) and linoleic acid (18:2n-6) and higher (P < 0.001) eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3) levels in hepatic microsomes; and (iii) significantly lower (P < 0.001) estimated peroxidation indices and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances generation.


Venkatraman JT, Chandrasekar B, Kim JD, Fernandes G. Effects of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids on the activities and expression of hepatic antioxidant enzymes in autoimmune-prone NZBxNZW F1 mice. Lipids. 1994 Aug;29(8):561-8.

Key concepts: fish oil, krill oil, Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, DHA, autoimmune disease