To assess the effect of an enteral diet enriched with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and anti-oxidants on the incidence of organ dysfunction and nosocomial infections in septic patients with acute lung injury or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) compared with a standard enteral diet.

This prospective, randomized, open-label study was performed in 11 Spanish intensive care units (ICU). Adult patients with sepsis and acute lung injury or ARDS were randomly allocated to receive either an EPA-GLA diet or a control diet.

Of the 198 patients that were eligible, 160 were randomized and 132 were studied. Patient demographics, APACHE II and SOFA scores, and nutritional variables on admission were similar between the EPA-GLA diet and control diet groups. The EPA-GLA diet group showed a trend toward a decreased SOFA score, but it was not significant. No differences were observed in the PaO(2)/FiO(2) ratio or the days on mechanical ventilation between the groups. Incidence of infections was similar in the groups. The control group stayed longer in the ICU than the EPA-GLA diet group (16 vs. 18; p = 0.02).

A diet enriched with EPA, GLA, and anti-oxidants does not improve gas exchange or decrease the incidence of novel organ failures in critically ill septic patients with acute lung injury or ARDS. Patients treated with the EPA-GLA diet stayed in the ICU for less time, but we did not find any differences in infectious complications.