The administration of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) is known to be effective against allergic diseases by suppressing the production of eicosanoids derived from arachidonic acid. To investigate the mechanisms and efficacy of n-3 PUFA treatment in patients with atopic dermatitis (AD), we administered four different formulas of alpha-linolenic acid for 6 weeks in an AD model using NC/Nga mice. According to the doses of alpha-linolenic acid given, the levels of alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid in the red blood cell membranes increased while the levels of linoleic acid and arachidonic acid decreased. However, there was no significant difference among the four dose groups in clinical skin severity score, histopathological findings of skin lesions, or levels of total plasma IgE. Moreover, there was no significant difference in the production of leukotriene B(4) and Leukotriene C(4) from skin lesions after stimulation with A23187 among the groups, although the production of prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) was significantly reduced and skin blood flow in the ear was significantly higher in the group given the highest dose of alpha-linolenic acid. Our results suggest that the administration of alpha-linolenic acid can change the fatty acid composition, PGE(2) production, and skin blood flow but may not prevent the development of dermatitis in NC/Nga mice.
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