- Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which affects 5 million people
- Lupus can be triggered by a toxic mineral, crystalline
silica that is linked to autoimmunity
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that can
stop a known trigger of lupus
is an autoimmune
disease that can damage the skin, joints, and organs inside the body.
Researchers have been conducting studies to find a cure for autoimmune diseases
. Now a team of researchers
from Michigan State University has found that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can
block a known trigger of lupus.
What is DHA?
acid is an omega-3 fatty acid
that can be found in fatty
and cold water fishes. Omega- 3 fatty acids do not naturally occur in the fish.
DHA is produced by the algae that fish eat and stored
in their bodies. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and fish oil supplements are
good sources of DHA. Some other sources of DHA include egg and dairy products.
‘Eating fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel or taking fish oil supplements may prevent the onset of lupus (autoimmune disease).’
How can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Prevent Lupus?
discovered that lupus could be triggered by a toxic mineral called crystalline
silica, also known as quartz, which is linked to autoimmunity in humans.
"When lupus was
triggered by crystalline silica, DHA blocked the
activation of the disease," said Melissa Bates, one of the study's lead authors
and a doctoral student in MSU's Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
and the Institute of Integrative Toxicology.
study was conducted in mice that were genetically predisposed to the disease.
The researchers looked at the effect of DHA on lupus lesions in the lungs and
kidneys of mice. The findings showed that lung lesions triggered by the
silica were stopped with DHA by 96 percent.
came up with two theories on how DHA can block the trigger for an autoimmune
disease. One theory is that DHA helps the cells send an anti-inflammatory
signal to the body, so it does not trigger an autoimmune response. The second
is that DHA allows the cells to swallow up and remove the toxic mineral
silica from the lung without dying, thus preventing the inflammatory signals
from being sent.
another study author, and the pulmonary pathologist said, "I've never seen such
a dramatic protective response in the lung before. Cells in the lung can gobble
up the silica, but it's so toxic, it kills these cells. When they die, signals
are sent out to the immune system that something is wrong. The body then
produces such a strong response that it also starts to target healthy cells."
"The DHA could be changing the way these cells, also known as
macrophages, react to the silica in the lungs and somehow alter the immune
Although it is
unknown why DHA can prevent the onset of lupus, the researchers hope that their
study provides a better model for looking at how much DHA is needed to ward off
the environmental trigger of the disease.
James Pestka, a
University Distinguished Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, said,
"What we do know is this study is a clear indication that eating DHA can prevent
this one type of environmental triggering of lupus."
"It can suppress
many of the disease's signaling pathways, which current drugs on the market now
try to target and treat," said Pestka, who also co-led the research with Bates
The research was
funded by The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Lupus
Foundation of America.
The findings of
the study are published in PLOS ONE.
Lupus is an
autoimmune disease, which is also considered to be genetic. The body's immune
system attacks itself and can damage any part of the body, including the skin,
joints, and organs.
Lupus can be
triggered by inhaling toxic minerals like crystalline silica and also by other
environmental factors such as sun exposure. Quartz is the dangerous form of
crystalline silica found in the agriculture, construction and mining industries
where workers are more likely to inhale the toxic mineral.
and medications such as antibiotics, anti-seizure and blood pressure
can cause lupus. The signs
and symptoms of lupus include butterfly rash on the face, fatigue, fever, joint
pain, swelling, skin lesions, and sensitivity to the sun. There is no cure for
lupus, but lifestyle changes and medications can keep the disease under
Facts About Lupus
- Globally, about 5 million people have some form of lupus.
- An estimated 1.5 million Americans have lupus. At least 16,000
new cases of lupus are reported every year in the United States.
- Lupus is more likely to affect women between the ages of 15 and
44. Men, children, and teenagers also develop lupus.
- African-American women are three times more likely to develop
lupus than Caucasian women.
- The most severe forms of lupus are common among
African-American and Hispanic women.
- What is lupus? - (http://www.lupus.org/answers/entry/what-is-lupus)
- Definititon of Lupus - (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lupus/basics/definition/con-
- Lupus - (https:medlineplus.gov/lupus.html)