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Perinatal supplementation of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, immune response and adult diseases

Undurti N. Das

Med Sci Monit 2004; 10(5): HY19-25

ID: 11664


Both w-6 and w-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) modulate TH1 and TH2 cell generation, their cytokine production, and cell proliferation and thus may serve as endogenous anti-inflammatory molecules. LCPUFAs suppress the production of tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a) (and so also of OX40, since it belongs to the family of TNFR) and the expression of Bcl-2, suggesting that these fatty acids have the ability to prevent/suppress autoimmune diseases. Human breast milk contains substantial amounts of both w-3 and w-6 fatty acids. This indicates that LCPUFAs present in human breast milk suppress the levels of OX40 and decrease the expression of Bcl-xL and Bcl-2 on exposure to self-antigens and thus, protects against the development of autoimmune diseases in later life. In view of this, I propose that supplementation of appropriate amounts of LCPUFAs during perinatal period protects against atopy, asthma, auto-immune diseases, type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, coronary heart disease, metabolic syndrome X, lymphomas, leukemias and other cancers, schizophrenia, depression and other adult diseases in which low-grade systemic inflammation plays a significant role. It is also likely that perinatal supplementation of LCPUFAs in adequate amounts modulates the expression of genes concerned with immune response, angiogenesis, central osmo/sodium and glucose sensors etc. This renders various tissues and organs including T cells and macrophages, endothelial cells, hypothalamic neurons, and various cardiovascular tissues to be able to counteract the pathological mechanisms that tend to induce various adult diseases by blunting the inflammatory responses in those who received adequate amounts of LCPUFAs during the perinatal period compared to those who did not.

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