Consuming an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA can help stop a known trigger of lupus, an inflammatory autoimmune disease, researchers at Michigan State University in the US have found after successful tests on mice.

Autoimmune disease remains a relative mystery for the medical profession. Autoimmune disorders attack body’s immune system and destroy healthy tissue by mistake.

Their onset is difficult to explain, as the causes of autoimmune disease remain unknown. These multi-factor conditions are thought to be triggered by imbalances in microbiota, genetic factors, environmental factors — such as exposure to the toxic mineral crystalline silica — and viral infections.

By targeting one of the specific risk factors for lupus — crystalline silica exposure — a team of researchers at Michigan State University found that consuming an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA (or docosahexaenoic acid) could stop the activation of this known trigger of the disease, and potentially other autoimmune disorders.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in certain oils, such as canola oil and walnut oil, as well as in oily fish. Intake usually comes from small quantities in our diets, but fish oil supplements can also be used.

The scientists investigated the effect of DHA on lupus lesions in the lungs and kidneys of female mice genetically predisposed to the disease.