Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids impinge on CD4+ T cell motility and adipose tissue distribution via direct and lipid mediator-dependent effects

Danilo Cucchi, Dolores Camacho-muñoz, Michelangelo Certo, Jennifer Niven, Joanne Smith, Anna Nicolaou, Claudio Mauro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
156 Downloads (Pure)


Aims: Adaptive immunity contributes to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular metabolic disorders (CVMD). The omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3PUFA) are beneficial for cardiovascular health, with potential to improve the dysregulated adaptive immune responses associated with metabolic imbalance. We aimed to explore the mechanisms through which n-3PUFA may alter T cell motility and tissue distribution to promote a less inflammatory environment and improve lymphocyte function in CVMD.

Methods and results: Using mass spectrometry lipidomics, cellular, biochemical, and in vivo and ex vivo analyses, we investigated how eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the main n-3PUFA, modify the trafficking patterns of activated CD4+ T cells. In mice subjected to allogeneic immunization, a 3-week n-3PUFA-enriched diet reduced the number of effector memory CD4+ T cells found in adipose tissue, and changed the profiles of eicosanoids, octadecanoids, docosanoids, endocannabinoids, 2-monoacylglycerols, N-acyl ethanolamines, and ceramides, in plasma, lymphoid organs, and fat tissues. These bioactive lipids exhibited differing chemotactic properties when tested in chemotaxis assays with activated CD4+ T cells in vitro. Furthermore, CD4+ T cells treated with EPA and DHA showed a significant reduction in chemokinesis, as assessed by trans-endothelial migration assays, and, when implanted in recipient mice, demonstrated less efficient migration to the inflamed peritoneum. Finally, EPA and DHA treatments reduced the number of polarized CD4+ T cells in vitro, altered the phospholipid composition of membrane microdomains and decreased the activity of small Rho GTPases, Rhoα, and Rac1 instrumental in cytoskeletal dynamics.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that EPA and DHA affect the motility of CD4+ T cells and modify their ability to reach target tissues by interfering with the cytoskeletal rearrangements required for cell migration. This can explain, at least in part, the anti-inflammatory effects of n-3PUFA supporting their potential use in interventions aiming to address adipocyte low-grade inflammation associated with cardiovascular metabolic disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCardiovascular Research
Early online date10 Aug 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2019


  • n-3PUFA
  • CD4+ T cell
  • Adipose tissue
  • Cardiovascular metabolic disease
  • Mass spectrometry lipidomics


Dive into the research topics of 'Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids impinge on CD4+ T cell motility and adipose tissue distribution via direct and lipid mediator-dependent effects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this