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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2017 Mar;64(3):446-453. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001283.

Reduction of Arachidonate Is Associated With Increase in B-Cell Activation Marker in Infants: A Randomized Trial.

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*Alberta Institute for Human Nutrition, University of Alberta †Alberta Health Services, Edmonton AB, Canada ‡Clinical Research, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Evansville, IN, the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT §Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Alberta ||Department of Pediatrics, Alberta Health Services, Edmonton AB ¶Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada.



Infants who are not breast-fed benefit from formula with both docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6n3) and arachidonic acid (ARA; C20:4n6). The amount of ARA needed to support immune function is unknown. Infants who carry specific fatty acid desaturase (FADS) polymorphisms may require more dietary ARA to maintain adequate ARA status.


The aim of the study was to determine whether ARA intake or FADS polymorphisms alter ARA levels of lymphocytes, plasma, and red blood cells in term infants fed infant formula.


Infants (N = 89) were enrolled in this prospective, double-blind controlled study. Infants were randomized to consume formula containing 17 mg docosahexaenoic acid and 0, 25, or 34 mg ARA/100 kcal for 10 weeks. Fatty acid composition of plasma phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine, total fatty acids of lymphocytes and red blood cells, activation markers of lymphocytes, and polymorphisms in FADS1 and FADS2 were determined.


Lymphocyte ARA was higher in the 25-ARA formula group than in the 0- or 34-ARA groups. In plasma, 16:0/20:4 and 18:0/20:4 species of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine were highest and 16:0/18:2 and 18:0/18:2 were lowest in the 34-ARA formula group. In minor allele carriers of FADS1 and FADS2, plasma ARA content was elevated only at the highest level of ARA consumed. B-cell activation marker CD54 was elevated in infants who consumed formula containing no ARA.


ARA level in plasma is reduced by low ARA consumption and by minor alleles in FADS. Dietary ARA may exert an immunoregulatory role on B-cell activation by decreasing 16:0/18:2 and 18:0/18:2 species of phospholipids. ARA intake from 25 to 34 mg/100 kcal is sufficient to maintain cell ARA level in infants across genotypes.


[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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