Effects of Fish Oil on Biomarkers of Axonal Injury and Inflammation in American Football Players: A Placebo-Controlled Randomized Controlled Trial

Veronica A. Mullins, Sarah Graham, Danielle Cummings, Alva Wood, Vanessa Ovando, Ann C. Skulas-Ray, Dennis Polian, Yiwei Wang, Gerson D. Hernandez, Claudia M. Lopez, Adam C. Raikes, Roberta D. Brinton, Floyd H. Chilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

There are limited studies on neuroprotection from repeated subconcussive head impacts (RSHI) following docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) + eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) supplementation in contact sports athletes. We performed a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, parallel-group design trial to determine the impact of 26 weeks of DHA+EPA supplementation (n = 12) vs. placebo (high-oleic safflower oil) (n = 17) on serum concentrations of neurofilament light (NfL), a biomarker of axonal injury, and inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a)) in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I American football athletes. DHA+EPA supplementation increased (p < 0.01) plasma DHA and EPA concentrations throughout the treatment period. NfL concentrations increased from baseline to week 26 in both groups (treatment (<0.001); placebo (p < 0.05)), with starting players (vs. non-starters) showing significant higher circulating concentrations at week 26 (p < 0.01). Fish oil (DHA+EPA) supplementation did not mitigate the adverse effects of RSHI, as measured by NfL levels; however, participants with the highest plasma DHA+EPA concentrations tended to have lower NfL levels. DHA+EPA supplementation had no effects on inflammatory cytokine levels at any of the timepoints tested. These findings emphasize the need for effective strategies to protect American football participants from the effects of RSHI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2139
JournalNutrients
Volume14
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2022

Keywords

  • DHA
  • IL-6
  • TNF-a
  • football
  • head impacts
  • neurofilament light
  • subconcussive injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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