Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels and Immune Function in individuals with recurrent or continuing fatigue

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Source: Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2005 Dec 28;26(6) [Epub ahead of print]

In individuals with recurrent or continuing fatigue, the decreased levels of omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids are related to lowered serum zinc and defects in T cell activation.

Authors: Maes M, Mihaylova I, Leunis JC.

M-Care4U Outpatient Clinics, and the Clinical Research Center for Mental Health, Belgium.

There is now evidence that strong negative emotional states are accompanied by decreased levels of omega3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). There is a strong relationship between extreme negative emotional states and recurrent or continuing fatigue. The present study has been carried out in order to examine PUFA levels in recurrent fatigue states.

In twenty-two individuals with recurring fatigue and 12 normal controls, we measured serum PUFA levels using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. We found that recurring fatigue was accompanied by increased levels of omega6 PUFAs, i.e. linoleic acid and arachidonic acid (AA), and mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), i.e. oleic acid. The EPA/AA and total omega3/omega6 ratios were significantly lower in CFS patients than in normal controls.

The omega3/omega6 ratio was significantly and negatively correlated to the severity and recurrence of fatigue, and to some items of the life effect scale, i.e. aches and pain, fatigue and failing memory.

The severity of the fatigue state was significantly and positively correlated to linoleic and arachidonic acid, oleic acid, omega9 fatty acids and one of the saturated fatty acids, i.e. palmitic acid.

In individuals with recurrent or continuing fatigue, we found significant positive correlations between the omega3/omega6 ratio and lowered serum zinc levels and the lowered mitogen-stimulated CD69 expression on CD3+, CD3+CD4+, and CD3+CD8+ T cells, which indicate defects in early T cell activation.

The results of this study show that a decreased availability of omega3 PUFAs plays a role in the occurrence of recurrent or continuing fatigue, and is related to the immune dysfunction in such individuals.

The results suggest that individuals with recurrent or continuing fatigue should respond favourably to dietary supplement with – amongst other things – omega3 PUFAs, such as EPA and DHA.

PMID: 16380690 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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