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J Rheumatol. 1989 Jun;16(6):729-34.

Suppression of acute and chronic inflammation by dietary gamma linolenic acid.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.


We examined the effect of diets enriched in gamma linolenic acid (GLA) on acute inflammation induced by monosodium urate crystals, and on subacute and chronic inflammation induced by complete Freund's adjuvant in the rat subcutaneous air pouch and in rats with adjuvant induced arthritis. Diets were enriched (15% fat) with borage seed oil (23% GLA) or safflower oil (less than 1% GLA). Diets enriched with GLA suppressed inflammation markedly in all models, whereas the safflower oil diet did not influence the inflammatory response. The degree of inflammation was quantified by measuring pouch exudate cell concentration, lysosomal enzyme activity, volume, protein concentration and prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4 concentrations. In the chronic air pouch model, the pouch lining was thickened, invaded by mononuclear cells and exhibited proliferation of lining cells 14 days after adjuvant injection. The lesion was far less severe and usual pouch lining architecture was maintained in animals given dietary GLA. Livers of rats fed borage seed oil were enriched in GLA and dihomo gamma linolenic acid (DGLA), and the DGLA/arachidonate ratio was increased 5-fold compared with animals fed safflower oil. Enrichment of diet with plant seed oils rich in GLA may provide a way to alter generation of prostaglandins and leukotrienes and to influence acute and chronic inflammatory responses.

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