Immunosuppressive effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids on antigen presentation by human leukocyte antigen class I molecules

Saame Raza Shaikh, Michael Edidin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dietary supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) has immunosuppressive effects; however, the molecular targets of PUFAs and their mode of action remain unclear. One possible target is antigen presentation to T cells through the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I pathway. Here we show that incorporation of PUFAs lowers target cell susceptibility to lysis by effector T cells. Treatment of B lymphoblast targets with the ω-6 PUFA arachidonic acid (AA) or ω-3 docosahexaenoic acid lowered their susceptibility to lysis by alloreactive CD8+ T cells by ∼20-25%. HLA class I surface levels and their rate of endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-Golgi traffic were also reduced by PUFA treatment. Calibration experiments showed that the ∼15% reduction in surface HLA I was not sufficient to completely account for the decreased lysis. However, PUFAs significantly lowered antigen-presenting cell-T cell conjugate formation, by ∼30-40%. Taken together, our data show for the first time that an ω-6 and an ω-3 PUFA affect the HLA class I pathway of B lymphoblasts. Our findings suggest that elimination of self- and pathogen-derived peptides by effectors may be compromised by dietary PUFA supplementation. In addition, PUFA-mediated changes in ER-Golgi trafficking point to a new area of PUFA modulation of immune responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-138
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Arachidonic acid
  • Cytolysis
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Membrane microviscosity
  • Surface expression
  • Trafficking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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