Effect of essential fatty acids on circulating T cell subsets in patients with colorectal cancer

P. Purasiri*, J. Ashby, S. D. Heys, O. Eremin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of essential fatty acids (EFA), given orally as dietary supplements, on the responsiveness in vitro of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL), to the mitogen concanavalin A have been studied in 10 patients with localized and 14 patients with advanced colorectal cancer. The degree of lymphocyte activation was assessed by measuring the amount of tritiated [3H]thymidine incorporated into newly synthesised lymphocyte DNA. The results were expressed as stimulation indices. T cell responses to concanavalin A stimulation showed a significant reduction of stimulation indices following EFA supplementation, in both the localized (P=0.026) and advanced (P=0.016) tumour groups, when compared with pretreatment activity in vitro. Mixing experiments, using EFA-supplemented and non-EFA-supplemented lymphocytes with concanavalin A, suggest no enhancement of T suppressor cell activity. Cell surface marker analysis (fluorescence-activated cell sorting for CD phenotyping) revealed a reduction of absolute numbers of CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes following EFA supplementation. The stimulation indices returned to presupplementation values 3 months following cessation of EFA intake. There was no significant change of these indices in the control (no EFA supplementation) advanced tumour group tested. This study suggests that EFA supplementation in patients with colorectal cancer selectively reduces circulating PBL. and T cell subset (including suppressor cells) numbers and/or activity. Such effects may have an important outcome in patients with malignant disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-222
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Immunology Immunotherapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1994


  • Cell proliferation
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Essential fatty acids


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