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Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and the pathophysiology of myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome).

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By Basant K Puri [1,*] • • August 30, 2006

Journal: J Clin Pathol. 2006 Aug 25; [Epub ahead of print] Author: Basant K Puri [1,*] Affiliation: 1 Hammersmith Hospital, United Kingdom * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: Accepted 31 July 2006 NLM Citation: PMID: 16935966 Evidence is put forward to suggest that myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, may be associated with persistent viral infection. In turn, such infections are likely to impair the ability of the body to biosynthesize n-3 and n-6 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids by inhibiting the delta-6 desaturation of the precursor essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid. In turn, this would impair the proper functioning of cell membranes, including cell signalling, and have an adverse effect of the biosynthesis of eicosanoids from the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids dihomo-a-linolenic acid, arachidonic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. These actions might offer an explanation for some of the symptoms and signs of myalgic encephalomyelitis. A potential therapeutic avenue may be offered by bypassing the inhibition of the enzyme delta-6-desaturase by dministering both virgin cold-pressed non-raffinated evening primrose oil and eicosapentaenoic acid. The former would supply gamma-linolenic acid and lipophilic pentacyclic triterpenes. The gamma-linolenic acid can readily be converted into dihomo-a-linolenic acid and thence arachidonic acid, while triterpenes have important free radical scavenging, cyclooxygenase and neutrophil elastase inhibitory activities. Furthermore, both arachidonic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid are, at relatively low concentrations, directly virucidal. Key Words: Myalgic encephalomyelitis, eicosapentaenoic acid, long-chain fatty acids

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