ROCHESTER, N.Y., March 16 (UPI) -- Omega-3 fatty acids could help the body fight lung infections common to inflammatory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, according to new research.
The acids, found in salmon, helped clear inflammation tied to infection from nontypeable haemophilus influenzae, or NTHi, while not reducing the immune systems and may have also helped clear the infection itself, University of Rochester researchers report in The Journal of Immunology.
The researchers said the findings show bacterial infection and inflammation, while related, are not tied to each other, based on results with mice showing either improved lung function despite infection, or faster elimination of the bacteria.
"We never really knew why diets high in omega fatty acids seemed good, but now we know it's because they provide the precursors for molecules that help shut down excessive inflammation," Dr. Richard Phipps, a professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester, in a press release.
The researchers used a derivative of omega-3 fatty acids in mice, finding inflammation went down while their immune systems continued to kill off NTHi bacteria and lung function improved.
Further research is needed to find whether the treatment would be effective in people, but researchers say it could help people with ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia, as well as COPD, which are all caused by NTHi.