Clinical Trials


Fish Oil for HIV-Related Inflamm-aging and Immune Senescence

This study has been completed
Rush University Medical Center

Information provided by (Responsible Party)
Rush University Medical Center Identifier

First received: March 31, 2014
Last updated: March 25, 2019
Last Verified: March 2019
History of Changes


HIV infection is associated with premature aging of the immune system. It is believe that the persistent inflammation that accompanies HIV infection is a major contributor to premature immune aging. Fish oil has well-documented anti-inflammatory properties. In this randomized, clinical trial, we're testing whether a 12-week course of fish oil supplementation will reverse premature aging in HIV-infected older adults.

Condition Intervention
HIV Infection

Dietary Supplement : Fish oil that contains omega-3 fatty acids
Dietary Supplement : Placebo

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Intervention Model Description: Participants were randomized to one of two arms: Intervention arm = fish oil Control arm = placebo.
Masking: Double (Participant, Investigator)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Fish Oil for HIV-Related Inflamm-aging and Immune Senescence

Further study details as provided by Rush University Medical Center:

Primary Outcome Measures

  • Change in Markers of Immune Senescence Between Baseline Values and Values After 12 Weeks of Supplementation [ Time Frame: End of 12-Week Supplementation Period ]
    Markers of immune senescence will include change in the expression of the senescence markers CD28 and CD57 on the surface of peripheral CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes. We will measure the percentage of CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes that are CD28-/CD57- or CD28-/CD57+. We will subtract the percentage obtained at Week 12 from the baseline percentage to calculate the change scores.

Enrollment: 37
Study Start Date: April 2014
Study Completion Date: December 2015
Primary Completion Date: December 2015 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)

Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Fish Oil
Participants will receive fish oil gelcaps that contain 1.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids (800 mg of EPA, 600 mg DHA, 200 mg other omega-3 fatty acids) for 12 weeks.
Dietary Supplement: Fish oil that contains omega-3 fatty acids

Fish oil gelcaps that contain 800 mg of EPA, 600 mg of DHA, 200 mg other omega-3 fatty acids

Other Name: Carlson Brand fish oil
Placebo Comparator: Placebo
Participants will receive 1 gram of oleic sunflower oil for 12 weeks.
Dietary Supplement: Placebo

Gelcaps that contain 1 gram of oleic sunflower oil

Detailed Description:

Due to treatment advances, the number of persons > 50 years old who are living with HIV/AIDS in the United States (US) has steadily increased. African Americans (AA) represent a disproportionate number of HIV/AIDS cases in this age group, with infection rates 12 times higher than among whites (51.7 per 100,000 compared to 4.2 per 100,000). Limited data suggest that older HIV+ AA are characterized by health status disparities. One cohort study of older, largely minority HIV+ persons (N=121, AA=83%;mean age=54), found that 34% had metabolic syndrome and 50% had a Framingham Cardiac Risk score > 10%. HIV+ older adults of all races show a premature onset of other age-associated co-morbidities, such as osteoporosis, non-AIDS malignancies, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). These co-morbidities have been linked to persistent inflammation and persistently elevated serum levels of proinflammatory cytokines that mimic an aging phenotype known as "inflamm-aging." In both middle-aged HIV+ persons and older HIV seronegative adults, inflamm-aging is associated with more limited T cell repertoires and increased risk for morbidities and mortality. In HIV infection, inflamm-aging is postulated to be maintained (a) by the constant antigen burden imposed by HIV and other chronic viral co-pathogens, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), and (b) by HIV-induced disruption of intestinal epithelial integrity with subsequent translocation of gut microflora into the systemic circulation. Our hypothesis is that inflamm-aging is responsible for the premature immune senescence associated with HIV infection in aging individuals. Immune senescence, characterized by diminished replicative capacity, has been observed in middle-aged persons treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) who achieve immune reconstitution and undetectable viral loads. Senescent cells are characterized by the absence of the surface marker CD28, and in advanced senescence express CD57 (CD28-/CD57+ phenotype). Because premature senescence leads to loss of anti-HIV cell-mediated immune responses and accelerated HIV disease progression,there is an urgent need to test new treatment strategies to reduce inflamm-aging and subsequent immune senescence.
Fish oil may be an effective treatment option for reducing HIV-related inflamm-aging. Cold water fish are rich in the omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which have anti-inflammatory effects. When consumed as fish or fish oil supplements, EPA and DHA replace arachidonic acid in cell membranes and inhibit the synthesis of proinflammatory arachidonic acid metabolites, such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Moreover, animal and in vitro studies have shown that EPA and DHA stimulate regeneration of intestinal mucosa damaged by methotrexate,16 IL-4, and experimental ulcerative colitis. Yet, to date, no studies have been conducted on the effects of fish oil for reducing HIV-related inflamm-aging and reversing immune senescence.
The purpose of this study is to explore the safety and estimate the effect size of fish oil to modulate parameters of inflamm-aging and immune senescence in HIV+ older adults. Participants will receive either 1.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids (800 mg of EPA, 600 mg DHA, 200 mg other omega-3 fatty acids) or placebo for 12 weeks. We expect to find a reduction in inflammatory markers and the percentage of CD8+ and CD4+ T lymphocytes that exhibit a senescent phenotype in the fish oil condition, but not in the control condition, at 12 weeks. We expect to find no difference between the conditions on the safety parameters at 4 and 12 weeks.
The specific aims are:
Aim 1. To assess the safety of the fish oil condition by comparing it to the control condition at 4 and 12 weeks, controlling for covariates (demographics, lifestyle, medications including HAART, fish oil supplement adherence, intercurrent illnesses), on

  1. HIV disease parameters (CD4+ T cell counts and HIV RNA levels)
  2. Drug toxicity (liver function tests and serum creatinine)
  3. Adverse events (e.g., diarrhea, vomiting)

Aim 2. To estimate the effect size of the fish oil condition at 12 weeks, controlling for covariates, by comparing the following cell surface molecules and intracellular and soluble inflammatory markers before and after fish oil
  • Markers of immune senescence on CD8+ T lymphocytes: percentage of CD8+/CD28- T lymphocytes, a phenotype of immune senescence (primary outcome); percentage of CD8+/CD28-/CD57- T lymphocytes (an intermediate senescent phenotype); percentage of CD8+/CD28-/CD57+ T lymphocytes (a terminally differentiated senescent phenotype)
  • Markers of immune senescence on CD4+ T lymphocytes: percentage of CD4+/CD28- T lymphocytes; percentage of CD4+/CD28-/CD57- T lymphocytes; percentage of CD4+/CD28-/CD57+ T lymphocytes
  • Markers of inflammation: plasma hsCRP and intracellular concentrations of TNF-alpha, IL-6, and gamma IFN

  • Aim 3: To estimate the effect size of the fish oil condition at 12 weeks on gut permeability, controlling for covariates, by comparing the following indirect markers of gut permeability before and after fish oil
  • Endotoxin
  • Soluble mouse CD14
  • Endotoxin binding antibody
  • lysaccharide binding protein



    Ages Eligible for Study: 40 Years to 70 Years  
    Sexes Eligible for Study: All  
    Accepts Healthy Volunteers: No  


    Inclusion Criteria:

    • documented HIV infection
    • between 40 and 70 years of age
    • clinically stable HIV disease as evidenced by a CD4+ T lymphocyte count of > 250 cells/mm3
    • platelet count between 150,000 and 400,000 cells/mm3 to reduce bleeding risks associated with omega 3-fatty acids
    • treatment with a stable HAART regimen for at least six months prior to study entry
    • plasma HIV RNA < 75 copies/ml for at least 12 months
    • elevated plasma concentration of hsCRP (> 2.0 mg/L).

    Exclusion Criteria:
    • use within the past month of drugs (e.g., statins, steroids, hormones) and supplements (e.g., omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine/chondroitin) that have anti-inflammatory effects (excluding non-regular use of aspirin or NSAIDS), or medications or supplements that affect bleeding (e.g., heparin, warfarin, clopidogrel, garlic, ginseng)
    • allergy to fish or shellfish
    • chronic inflammatory condition (e.g., asthma, rheumatoid arthritis), opportunistic infection or cancer, renal impairment (serum creatinine > 2.0 mg/dL), thrombocytopenia (platelet count < 150,000/mm3), bleeding episodes (e.g., gum bleeding, nosebleeds), or a metabolic condition (e.g., diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease)
    • body mass index of > 35, since obesity is associated with inflammation
    • impaired liver function as evidenced by liver enzyme elevations > three times the upper limit of normal (AST or ALT > 150 IU/L)
    • history of prostate cancer
    • LDL cholesterol level > 120 mg/dL
    • lifestyle exclusion factors include use of illicit drugs and consumption of > 3
    alcoholic drinks/day

    contacts and locations

    Contacts and Locations

    Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision.Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below.For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

    Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT02102724


    United States, Illinois
    Rush University Medical Center
    Chicago, Illinois, United States, 60612

    Sponsors and Collaborators

    Rush University Medical Center


    Principal Investigator: Barbara A. Swanson, PhD, RN Rush University College of Nursing
    More Information

    More Information

    Responsible Party: Rush University Medical Center Identifier: NCT02102724   History of Changes  
    Other Study ID Numbers: 5P20MD006886  
    Study First Received: March 31, 2014  
    Last Updated: March 25, 2019  
    Individual Participant Data    
    Plan to Share IPD: No  

    Keywords provided by Rush University Medical Center:

    African Americans
    Older Adults

    Additional relevant MeSH terms:
    HIV Infections processed this data on June 01, 2020
    This information is provided by