Lack of Omega 6 Linked to Severe Dermatitis

Posted on April 15, 2010 by

Omega 6, arachidonic acid, an essential amino acid, appears to be critical to the health of skin and probably many other tissues in the body, according to scientific studies. Our bodies make arachidonic acid from linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that we must obtain through our diets. It is found mainly in vegetable oils.

Scientists have long attributed healthy skin function to linoleic acid, which is important because it provides the lipids that coat the outer layer of the skin, keeping the body from losing water and energy, which would retard growth, the scientist said.

But skin function seems to be more complicated than that. These itchy mice had plenty of linoleic acid. They just couldn’t convert it to arachidonic acid because the gene to make the necessary enzyme had been knocked out, he noted.

Arachidonic acid is also essential to the production of prostaglandins, compounds that can lead to inflammatory reactions and are important to immune function. Common painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen work by inhibiting the conversion of arachidonic acid to prostaglandins.

The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Lipid Research. Co-authors are Chad K. Stroud, Takayuki Y. Nara, Manuel Roqueta-Rivera, Emily C. Radlowski, Byung H. Cho, Mariangela Segre, Rex A. Hess, and Wanda M. Haschek, all of the U of I, and Peter Lawrence, Ying Zhang, and J. Thomas Brenna of Cornell University. Funding was provided in part by a USDA National Needs Fellowship Award and a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

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