Objective: To explore the effects of an enteral diet enriched with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and antioxidants on the respiratory profile and outcome of patients with acute lung injury.

Design: Single-center, prospective, randomized, controlled, unblinded study.

Setting: General intensive care department of a tertiary-care, university-affiliated hospital.

Patients: A total of 100 patients with acute lung injury, diagnosed according to the American-European Consensus Conference on ARDS.

Interventions: Patients were randomized to receive the standard isonitrogenous, isocaloric enteral diet or the standard diet supplemented with EPA and GLA for 14 days.

Measurements and Main Results: Patient demographics, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score, and type of admission were noted at admission. Compared with baseline oxygenation (EPA + GLA group vs. control group), by days 4 and 7, patients receiving the EPA + GLA diet showed significant improvement in oxygenation (Pao2/Fio2, 317.3 +/- 99.5 vs. 214.3 +/- 56.4 and 296.5 +/- 165.3 vs. 236.3 +/- 79.8, respectively; p < .05). Compliance was significantly higher in the EPA + GLA group observed at day 7 (55.1 +/- 46.5 vs. 35.2 +/- 20.0 mL/mbar, p < .05). No significant difference was found in nutritional variables. Resting energy expenditure was significantly higher in patients in the EPA + GLA group, but their body mass index was also higher (p < .05). A significant difference was found in length of ventilation (p < .04) in favor of the EPA + GLA group. There was no between-group difference in survival.

Conclusions: In patients with acute lung injury, a diet enriched with EPA + GLA may be beneficial for gas exchange, respiratory dynamics, and requirements for mechanical ventilation.