Repeated low doses of streptozocin (STZ; 40 mg/kg, 5 injections/day) induce hyperglycemia in certain strains of mice after a latency of 1 wk. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω3FA) have been reported to suppress immune processes by blockade of the cyclooxygenase pathway of arachidonic acid metabolism. We investigated the effects of diets high in ω3FA on the development of diabetes in the low-dose STZ-induced diabetes (LDSTZ-D) model. Male C57BL/6J mice were on a fish oil diet (FOD) as a source of ω3FA 8 wk before STZ injection. Controls received laboratory chow only or a coconut oil diet (COD). Blood glucose levels in FOD mice were reduced (12.5 vs. 28 mM for COD mice, P < .001) 60 days after STZ injection with a diet in which 20% of the calories were from fish oil. In FOD mice, immunohistology showed reduced numbers of class II antigen-expressing cells in pancreatic islets followed by a decreased extent of insulitis. FOD significantly decreased the number of Fc receptor-negative dendritic cells in cytospin preparations of islets isolated from diabetic mice. Interleukin 1–like activity of peritoneal exudate cell supernatants isolated from mice on FOD was reduced. FOD did not improve insulin secretion of isolated islets from LDSTZ-D mice. These data indicate a beneficial effect of FOD on the immune component of the mouse LDSTZ-D model.

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