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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Aug 15;18(4):433-42.

Essential fatty acid status in paediatric Crohn's disease: relationship with disease activity and nutritional status.

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Institute of Human Nutrition, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.



Active paediatric Crohn's disease is associated with nutritional deficiencies and altered nutrient intake. The availability of essential fatty acids (linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids) or their derivatives (arachidonic and eicosapentaenoic acids) may alter in plasma and cell membrane phospholipid in protein-energy malnutrition in children and in Crohn's disease in adults.


To investigate the relationship of fatty acid phospholipid profiles with disease activity and nutritional status in paediatric Crohn's disease.


The fatty acid (proportionate) composition of plasma and erythrocyte phosphatidylcholine was determined in 30 patients (10.3-17.0 years) stratified into active and quiescent Crohn's disease (paediatric Crohn's disease activity index) and high and low body mass (body mass index centile).


In plasma phosphatidylcholine, active disease activity was associated with a lower level of alpha-linolenic acid compared with that in quiescent disease (P < 0.05). A body mass index below the 50th centile was associated with active Crohn's disease, low linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids and high arachidonic acid (P < 0.05) in plasma phosphatidylcholine, and low alpha-linolenic acid in erythrocyte phosphatidylcholine. These findings could not be explained through differences in habitual dietary fat intake.


In paediatric Crohn's disease, a low body mass index centile and high disease activity are associated with altered profiles of essential fatty acids and their derivatives, which may reflect altered metabolic demand.

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