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Keloids in rural black South Africans. Part 3: a lipid model for the prevention and treatment of keloid formations.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Morphology, University of the Orange Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.


In the third part of this study a basic lipid model (regarding phospholipids, triglycerides, cholesterol esters and free fatty acids) for keloids (n=20), compared with normal skin of keloid prone and non-keloid prone patients (n=20 of each), was constructed according to standard methods, to serve as a sound foundation for essential fatty acid supplementation strategies in the prevention and treatment of keloid formations. Essential fatty acid deficiency (EFAD) of the omega-6 series (linoleic acid (LA), g-linolenic acid (GLA), and dihomo-g-linolenic acid (DGLA)) and the omega-3 series (a-linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)), but enhanced arachidonic acid (AA) levels, were prevalent in keloid formations. Enhanced AA, but a deficiency of AA precursors (LA, GLA and DGLA) and inflammatory competitors (DGLA and EPA), are inevitably responsible for the overproduction of pro-inflammatory metabolites (prostaglandin E(2)(PGE(2))) participating in the pathogenesis of inflammation. Of particular interest was the extremely high free oleic acid (OA) levels present, apart from the high free AA levels, in the keloid formations. OA stimulates PKC activity which, in turn, activates PLA(2)activity for the release or further release of AA from membrane pools. Interactions between EFAs, eicosanoids, cytokines, growth factors and free radicals can modulate the immune response and the immune system in undoubtedly involved in keloid formation. The histopathology of keloids can be adequately explained by: persistence of inflammatory- and cytokine-mediated reactions in the keloid/dermal interface and peripheral areas, where fibroblast proliferation and continuous depletion of membrane linoleic acid occur; microvascular regeneration and circulation of sufficient EFAs in the interface and peripheral areas, where maintenance of metabolic active fibroblasts for collagen production occur; microvessel occlusion and hypoxia in the central areas, where deprivation of EFAs and oxygen with consequent fibroblast apoptosis occur, while excessive collagen remain. All these factors contribute to different fibroblast populations present in: the keloid / dermal interface and peripheral areas where increases in fibroblast proliferation and endogenous TGF-b occur, and these metabolic active fibroblast populations are responsible for enhanced collagen production: the central areas where fibroblast populations under hypoxic conditions occur, and these fibroblasts are responsible for excessive collagen production. It was concluded that: fibroblast membrane EFAD of AA precursors and inflammatory competitors, but prevailing enhanced AA levels, can contribute to a chain of reactions eventually responsible for keloid formations.

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