Docosahexaenoic acid affects markers of inflammation and muscle damage after eccentric exercise.
The effect of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on inflammatory and muscle damage response to acute eccentric exercise and to the subsequent initiation of a resistance training program was studied in 41 untrained men. Subjects consumed either 2 g·d of either DHA or placebo (PL) for 28 days before a 17-day exercise phase (day 1 to day 17) that began with an eccentric exercise bout of the elbow flexors (day 1). For analysis, the exercise period was further divided into an acute response phase (day 1-4). Isometric muscle strength (STR), range of motion (ROM), and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) were measured on days 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 12, and 17. Fasted blood was measured for interleukin 6 (IL-6), interleukin 1 receptor antagonist, C-reactive protein (CRP), and creatine kinase (CK) on days 1, 2, and 4. Serum CK and CRP were also measured in blood collected on days 7, 12, and 17. In the acute phase, DHA significantly reduced the serum CK (12.5%) and the IL-6 response (32%) but did not affect STR or DOMS. Over the entire 17-day resistance exercise period, DOMS area under the curve was 183.2 ± 96.2 for DHA and 203.2 ± 120.9 for PL (p = 0.054) and the CK response was numerically lower for DHA (p = 0.093). Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation reduced some but not all indicators of muscle damage and inflammation in the 4 days after an acute eccentric exercise bout but did not significantly affect the response to initiation of resistance exercise.