Dietary fatty acids and allergy


Kankaanpaa P




Ann Med


The increase in the prevalence of atopic diseases has recently been linked to altered consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). As typical Western diets contain almost 10 times more linoleic acid (18:2 omega-6) than alpha-linolenic acid (18:3 omega-3), it is the metabolism of the former that predominates. Subsequently produced arachidonic acid-derived eicosanoids alter the balance of T-helper cells type 1 and type 2 thus favouring the production of immunoglobulin (Ig)E. In atopic subjects, the impact of this excessive eicosanoid production may be further strengthened as a result of changes in cyclic nucleotide metabolism exacerbated by substrate availability. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids can have marked influence on both specific and nonspecific immune responses in modifying eicosanoid production and replacing omega-6 fatty acids in cell membranes. Therefore, it is concluded that careful manipulation of dietary PUFAs may play a key role in the successful management of inflammation associated with atopic diseases.