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J Nutr Biochem. 1990 Mar;1(3):123-41.

Dietary unsaturated fatty acids: interactions and possible needs in relation to eicosanoid synthesis.

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Lipids Research Laboratory, Institute of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


In addition to providing energy and essential fatty acids, dietary fatty acids can affect numerous biochemical and physiologic reactions related to secretory, cardiovascular, and immune functions. The major dietary unsaturated fatty acid, linoleic acid, affects tissue arachidonic acid and can influence eicosanoid-mediated reactions. Chronic, excess, or imbalanced eicosanoid synthesis may be conductive to excessive inflammation, thrombotic tendencies, atherosclerosis, and immune suppression. Dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) may ameliorate eicosanoid-related phenomena by reducing tissue arachidonic acid and by inhibiting eicosanoid synthesis. This review summarizes information concerning the metabolism of unsaturated fatty acids, with emphasis on tissue arachidonic acid levels and eicosanoids, and discusses the need for data concerning the appropriate intake of dietary n-6 and n-3 PUFAs to modulate arachidonic acid and eicosanoid synthesis and to minimize possible adverse reactions.


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