Health Questions and Answers

Question: What is the effect of fatty acid malnutrition on the immune system?


Essential fatty acid deficiency (EFAD) is associated with depressed inflammatory responses. For example, depressed neutrophil chemotaxis may be related to reduced generation of the arachidonate metabolite leukotriene B4 (LTB4). In animal studies, researchers have shown that neutrophils from EFAD rats and monkeys showed decreased membrane depolarization and superoxide anion formation and depressed bactericidal capacity. Alpha-linolenic acid deficiency in three humans caused a reduced mitogenic responsed in isolated lymphocytes. EFAD impairs the capacity of macrophages to spread and adhere. Early in life, it appears that EFA are necessary for normal development of the T-cell lines and splenic lymphocytes.

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