New research shows that dietary fish oil can improve post-operative recovery in porcine.
Fish oil in the diet can improve appetite and reduce weight loss in connection with operations that are complicated by infection. This is the result of a PhD project carried out by veterinarian Sine Nygaard Langerhuus from Aarhus University.
Research in the past 30 years shows that an increased intake of fish oil containing large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids can modify the inflammatory response due to anti-inflammatory properties of the omega-3 fatty acids at the cellular level.
Invasive surgical procedures with large tissue trauma or severe infectious complications can in the more extreme cases lead to organ failure and death. Clinical trials have previously taken place where patients received different types of fatty acids after a major operation, including omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, and some improvement was noticed in the post-operative period. However, clinical trials in patients that are critically ill can be difficult to perform due to differences in the course of treatments and also due to general differences in patient lifestyle and other factors that are difficult to control. Sine Nygaard Langerhuus therefore chose to conduct her research using pigs as a model for humans.
In the present study, a vascular prosthetic graft was inserted on the lower part of the pig’s aorta. During this procedure the graft was contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus, which is the bacterium that is typically isolated in connection with early aortic graft infections in humans. The S. aureus infection was allowed to develop over 14 days. Three weeks prior to the operation and during the post-operative period the pigs were fed a dietary supplement of either fish oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids, sunflower oil rich in omega-6 fatty acids or animal fat rich in saturated fat.
The study shows that the pigs fed fish oil before their operation had a better appetite and less weight loss after the operation compared to the pigs fed sunflower oil. There was also a difference in the observed immune response in the pigs that were fed the fish oil compared to the pigs that received the sunflower oil, and to a lesser extent also compared to the pigs that received animal fat.
The results pave the way for investigations into whether fish oil in the diet before an operation may also improve the post-operative recovery in humans.
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The above story is adapted by the Zestzfulness Team from the January 29, 2012 news release by the Aarhus University