BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic inflammatory disease. It can manifest itself via a photosensitive facial rash, fatigue, anorexia, weight loss, and night sweats and can progress to life-threatening involvement of the heart, lungs, kidneys or central nervous system. Flare-ups of SLE are typically followed by periods of clinical remission. Oils found in fish and copper have both been found useful in the treatment of other inflammatory diseases, so researchers at the University of Ulster decided to see if supplementation with one or both of these would help alleviate SLE symptoms.
Their clinical trial involved 52 SLE patients who were randomly assigned to receive 3 grams/day of fish oil providing 540 mg/day of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and 360 mg/day of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), 3 mg/day of copper in the form of a copper di-glycinate amino acid complex, both fish oil and copper, or a placebo. The study lasted 24 weeks and participants were assessed at baseline, 6, 12 and 24 weeks.
The researchers found that disease activity at 24 weeks, as measured by the SLAM-R score, was significantly less in the groups that had supplemented with fish oil than in the placebo and copper only groups. They conclude that supplementation with fish oil may be effective in favourably modifying the symptomatic disease activity in SLE.
Duffy, EM, et al. The clinical effect of dietary supplementation with omega-3 fish oils and/or copper in systemic lupus erythematosus. Journal of Rheumatology, Vol. 31, August 2004, pp. 1551-56