The Effect of Krill Oil Supplementation on Exercise Performance and Markers of Immune Function

Mariasole Da Boit, Ina Mastalurova, Goda Brazaite, Niall McGovern, Keith Thompson, Stuart Robert Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Krill oil is a rich source of the long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which may alter immune function after exercise. The aim of the study was to determine the effects of krill oil supplementation on post exercise immune function and performance.

METHODS: Nineteen males and 18 females (age: 25.8 ± 5.3 years; mean ± S.D.) were randomly assigned to 2 g/day of krill oil (n = 18) or placebo (n = 19) supplementation for 6 weeks. A maximal incremental exercise test and cycling time trial (time to complete set amount of work) were performed pre-supplementation with the time trial repeated post-supplementation. Blood samples collected pre- and post- supplementation at rest, and immediately, 1 and 3h post-exercise. Plasma IL-6 and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) concentrations and, erythrocyte fatty acid composition were measured. Natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxic activity and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, IL-17 and IFNγ production were also measured.

RESULTS: No effects of gender were noted for any variable. PBMC IL-2 and NK cell cytotoxic activity were greater (P < 0.05) 3h post exercise in the krill oil compared to the control group. Plasma IL-6 and TBARS, PBMC IL-4, IL-10, IL-17 and IFNγ production, along with performance and physiological measures during exercise, were not different between groups.

CONCLUSION: Six weeks of krill oil supplementation can increase PBMC IL-2 production and NK cell cytotoxic activity 3h post-exercise in both healthy young males and females. Krill oil does not modify exercise performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0139174
Number of pages14
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number9
Early online date25 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2015

Bibliographical note

Date of Acceptance: 08/09/2015
We thank the technical support of the Institute of Medical Sciences Musculoskeletal Programme and the Iain Fraser Cytometry Centre.


Dive into the research topics of 'The Effect of Krill Oil Supplementation on Exercise Performance and Markers of Immune Function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this