Fish oil has protective and therapeutic effects on proteinuria in passive Heymann nephritis.
Kidney Int. 1993 Feb;43(2):359-68. PMID: 8441231
Passive Heymann nephritis (PHN) is a rat model of membranous nephropathy induced by injecting anti-Fx1A. The onset of proteinuria in PHN is caused by complement-mediated injury to glomerular epithelial cells (GEC) accompanied by enhanced glomerular eicosanoid production. In addition, sublethal injury by complement of rat GECs in culture leads to phospholipase activation, phospholipid hydrolysis and release of arachidonic acid and dienoic prostanoids. Based on these findings, we undertook to determine if substituting arachidonic acid (omega-6) in GEC membrane phospholipids with omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oil would alter the development and course of proteinuria in PHN. We found that rats fed a diet containing 10% fish oil for four weeks prior to antibody injection developed 50 to 60% less proteinuria between two and six weeks after anti-Fx1A than rats fed an equivalent diet containing 10% safflower oil, and had substantial enrichment of glomerular phospholipids with omega-3 fatty acids and displacement of arachidonic acid. This outcome was associated with a 50% reduction in release of glomerular thromboxane B2 (stable metabolite of thromboxane A2) in the fish oil group. More importantly, when PHN rats with well established proteinuria while on regular chow were randomized to three dietary groups, those fed fish oil had a 25 to 50% decline in proteinuria as compared to those fed lard or safflower oil. This difference was evident within two weeks of randomization and persisted until the end of the study after eight weeks. In neither study could the differences in urine protein excretion be accounted for by protein or calorie deprivation, or by differences in blood pressure, renal function, immune response to sheep IgG, or glomerular deposition of IgG or complement. Thus, our results indicate that dietary fish oil has protective and therapeutic effects with regard to proteinuria in PHN. These benefits may relate to alterations in membrane phospholipid composition in favor of omega-3 fatty acids and release of less reactive trienoic eicosanoids.