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Effect of CLA supplementation on immune function in young healthy volunteers



This study investigated the effect of dietary CLA supplementation (3g/day; 50:50 mix of the two major isomers) on the immune system and plasma lipids and glucose of healthy human (male and female) volunteers.


Double-blind, randomized, reference-controlled study.

Subject and intervention:

A total of 28 healthy male and female participants aged 25–50 y received either high oleic sunflower oil (reference) or 50% CLA 9–11 and 50% CLA 10–12 CLA isomers (50:50 CLA-triglyceride form). The treatments were given as supplements in soft-gel capsules providing a total 3 g (6 × 500 mg capsules) per day in treatment groups for 12 weeks. A 12-week washout period followed the intervention period.


Levels of plasma IgA and IgM were increased (P<0.05 and 0.01 respectively), while plasma IgE levels were decreased (P<0.05). CLA supplementation also decreased the levels of the proinflammatory cytokines, TNF-α and IL-1β (P<0.05), but increased the levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10 (P<0.05). Another aspect of immune function, delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) response, was decreased during and after CLA supplementation (P<0.05). However, plasma glucose, lipids, lymphocyte phenotypic results were not affected significantly by CLA.


This is the first study to show that CLA, a fatty acid naturally found in dairy and meat products, can beneficially affect immune function in healthy human volunteers.


This study was supported by Loders-Croklaan, The Netherlands and SEERAD (Scottish Executive Environmental Rural and Agriculture Department).

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We thank Loders-Croklaan, The Netherlands and SEERAD (Scottish Executive Environmental Rural and Agriculture Department) for their sponsorship. In addition we thank all volunteers for their participation.

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Correspondence to K W J Wahle.

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Guarantor: KWJ Wahle.

Contributors: KJWJ, DR, IM, SDH designed the study supervised experiment work. H-JS, IG conducted experiment work. NS analysed CRP results. H-JS wrote the manuscript with input from all authors.

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Song, HJ., Grant, I., Rotondo, D. et al. Effect of CLA supplementation on immune function in young healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr 59, 508–517 (2005).

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  • conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • immune function
  • fatty acids
  • human

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