Omega-3 fatty acids and decidual cell prostaglandin production in response to the inflammatory cytokine IL-1β

Ashley S. Roman, Jeremy Schreher, Andrew P. Mackenzie, Peter W. Nathanielsz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the effect of omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA]; docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) on prostaglandin production and prostanoid enzyme expression in cultured decidual cells exposed to interleukin- 1β (IL-1β), a cytokine that plays a major role in inflammation. Study design: Decidua was obtained from human placentas of nonlaboring patients at term cesarean delivery (N = 6) and cultured by using standard cell culture techniques. Cells were preincubated in defined media with various concentrations of vehicle, DHA, or EPA for 1 hour. IL-1β (10 ng/mL) was then added to the media, and experiments were terminated 12 hours after exposure to IL-1β. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and PGF2α concentrations in conditioned media were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1), COX-2, microsomal prostaglandin E synthase (mPGES)-1, mPGES-2, and 15-hydroxy prostaglandin dehydrogenase (PGDH) expression were quantified by real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunoblotting. Groups were compared with the use of Student t test, with significance defined as P < .05. Results: Preincubation with DHA decreased prostaglandin production by up to 80% when compared with controls. DHA decreased both mPGES-1 and -2 messenger RNA expression by approximately 50% (P = .02). Preincubation in DHA or EPA had no effect on COX-1, COX-2, and PGDH messenger RNA or protein expression. Conclusion: Under conditions simulating inflammation, supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids decreases PGE2 and PGF2α production in cultured decidual cells. The reduction in prostaglandin production was associated with a decreased expression of mPGES-1 and -2. These findings suggest a mechanism by which omega-3 fatty acid supplementation decreases the incidence of preterm birth in high-risk patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1693-1699
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Cell culture
  • Omega-3 fatty acid
  • Preterm birth
  • Prostaglandin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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