NEW YORK, NY. Seriously ill cystic fibrosis (CF) patients cannot absorb fats and other nutrients properly and therefore often need infusions of essential fatty acids. These infusions are most often based on linoleic acid as many CF patients have been found to have a deficiency of this omega-6 fatty acid. There is now substantial evidence that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils can suppress inflammatory processes such as those involved in CF.
A team of American, Finnish, and German researchers completed a small clinical trial aimed at determining if it would be safe and effective to use a fish oil fortified emulsion in the intravenous feeding of CF patients. The trial involved 12 patients; 6 were given infusions of a lipid emulsion enriched with fish oils while the remaining 6 (control group) were given infusions of the standard linoleic acid-based emulsion. The fish oil emulsion contained 18.3% eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), 27.6% docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), 12.7% oleic acid, and 2.5% linoleic acid. The standard emulsion contained 54.5% linoleic acid, 22.4% oleic acid, and 0% EPA and DHA. Both emulsions were administered daily (over a 4-hour period) for 1 month at a dose of 150 mg/kg of body weight. The researchers found no adverse effects on liver function or coagulation parameters and no toxic or allergic reactions in the patients receiving the fish oil emulsion. There was a tendency to improved lung function in the fish oil group and a tendency towards a worsening in the control group during the trial; however, these effects were not statistically significant. The researchers conclude that intravenous infusions of lipid emulsions containing fish oils are safe for CF patients. They urge additional, longer-term studies to determine if such infusions would be of clinical benefit.
Katz, David P., et al. The use of an intravenous fish oil emulsion enriched with omega-3 fatty acids in patients with cystic fibrosis. Nutrition, Vol. 12, No. 5, 1996, pp. 334-39