Background Highly desaturated n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are synthesized by desaturases and elongase. They exert hepatoprotective effects to prevent alcoholic fatty liver syndrome or cholestatic liver injury. However, it is unclear how n-3 PUFAs improve immune function in liver. Vibrio vulnificus, a gram-negative bacterial pathogen, causes high mortality of aquaculture fishes upon infection. Humans can become infected with V. vulnificus through open wounds or by eating raw seafood, and such infections may result in systemic septicemia. Moreover, patients with liver diseases are vulnerable to infection, and are more likely than healthy persons to present with liver inflammation following infection. This study quantified n-3 PUFAs and their anti-bacterial effects in Fadsd6 and Elvol5a transgenic zebrafish.
Results Two transgenic zebrafish strains with strong liver specific expression of Fadsd6 and Elvol5a (driven by the zebrafish Fabp10 promoter) were established using the Tol2 system. Synthesis of n-3 PUFAs in these strains were increased by 2.5-fold as compared to wild type (Wt) fish. The survival rate in 24 h following challenge with V. vulnificus was 20 % in Wt, but 70 % in the transgenic strains. In addition, the bacteria counts in transgenic fish strains were significantly decreased. The expression levels of pro-inflammatory genes, such as TNF-α, IL-1β, and NF-κB, were suppressed between 9 and 12 h after challenge. This study confirms the anti-bacterial function of n-3 PUFAs in a transgenic zebrafish model.
Conclusions Fadsd6 and Elvol5a transgenic zebrafish are more resistant to V. vulnificus infection, and enhance survival by diminishing the attendant inflammatory response.