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J Cyst Fibros. 2006 May;5(2):77-84. Epub 2006 Feb 28.

Fatty acids in blood and intestine following docosahexaenoic acid supplementation in adults with cystic fibrosis.

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  • 1Nutrition and Metabolism Research Group, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation on blood and intestinal DHA levels and lung function in mild/moderately affected adult CF patients with the DeltaF508 genotype.


Cystic Fibrosis (CF) patients often present with plasma fatty acid levels indicating low levels of linoleic (18:2n-6) and docosahexaenoic (22:6n-3) acids and an increased level of arachidonic acid (20:4n-6). Improved dietary fat intake or reducing fat malabsorption with pancreatic enzymes has failed to normalize this biochemical deficiency of DHA.


Five CF patients, aged 18-43, received 70 mg of DHA/kg body weight/d for six weeks. At baseline and at six weeks a physical exam, lung function, 3-day dietary intake, duodenal mucosal biopsy and blood sample were assessed. The blood was analyzed for plasma vitamin A, D and E levels, liver function tests, clinical chemistry (CBC, differential and electrolytes). Plasma and red blood cell fatty acid levels were also analyzed. At three weeks, assessment included a physical exam, lung function test and fasting blood sample (vitamin levels, liver function and clinical chemistry only).


Pre- and post-measurements were compared for the four subjects who completed the study. An increase in DHA content (% w/w) was observed in all phospholipid fractions of plasma, red blood cell and mucosal samples. No significant differences in vitamin levels, liver function or lung function were observed.


The study proves the concept that an increase in tissue DHA levels in CF patients can be achieved by supplementing for six weeks with 70 mg/kg/d DHA.

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