Fish omega-3 fatty acids induce liver fibrosis in the treatment of bile duct-ligated rats

Chih Cheng Chen, Chun Yi Ho, Hsio Chi Chaung, You Lin Tain, Chih Sung Hsieh, Fang Ying Kuo, Chun Yu Yang, Li Tung Huang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Biliary atresia-induced cholestasis increases hepatic oxidative stress with eventual progression to cirrhosis and liver failure. Omega-3 fatty acids play a possible role in the regulation of oxidative stress and the improvement of cholestasis. Aim: The goal of the present study is to investigate the role of dietary supplementation of fish omega-3 fatty acids in the reduction of hepatocellular damage by using a rat common bile duct ligation model. Methods: Sprague-Dawley rats received either sham or bile duct ligation (BDL) and were divided into four study groups: Sham+saline (Sham+sal) group, Sham+Fish oil (Sham+FO) group, BDL+saline (BDL+sal) group, and BDL+Fish oil (BDL+FO) group. Rats from each group were assigned to receive, besides regular chow, once daily with either normal saline or fish omega-3 fatty acids (0.4 % of its own body weight) via gavage for 10 days. Samples of blood, liver tissue homogenates, and histological studies from different groups were analyzed at the end of the study. Results: Rats from BDL+FO had significantly impaired liver function as compared to other study groups (p < 0.05 is of significant difference). Ishak scores and the TGF-b1 contents were significantly higher in rats that received BDL+FO, p < 0.05. Contrary to TGF-b1 liver content, rats from the BDL+FO group had the lowest glutathione levels among the study groups, p < 0.05. Conclusions: Fish omega-3 fatty acids supplementation, albeit increased tissue content of DHA, tended to increase liver fibrosis in BDL rats, decrease liver glutathione level, and compromise hepatic function; fish oil supplementation to subjects with biliary atresia might be of potential hazard and should be used with caution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-447
Number of pages8
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 02 2013


  • Biliary atresia
  • Fish omega-3 fatty acids
  • Glutathione
  • Liver fibrosis
  • Liver transforming growth factor β1
  • Sprague-Dawley rat


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