The beneficial and detrimental effects of linoleic acid on autoimmune disorders

Autoimmunity. 2004 Feb;37(1):73-5. doi: 10.1080/08916930310001637968.


Type 1, or cellular, immune response is characterized by overproduction of IL-1, IL-2, IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha and is the underlying immune mechanism of some autoimmune disorders such as psoriasis, alopecia areata, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and experimental autoimmune uveitis. Type 2 immune response is seen in allergic and antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases and is characterized by IL-4, IL-6 and IL-10 overproduction. Linoleic acid is a precursor of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and its intake results in tissue production of PGE2, especially in the absence of other polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAS) which inhibit this conversion. PGE2 decreases the production of IL-1, IL-2, IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha and proliferation of TH1 cells and increases the production of IL-4, leading to suppression of the type 1 immune response. Taken together, linoleic acid, the major PUFA of maize oil, could have therapeutic efficacy against cellular autoimmune disorders. On the other hand, excessive intake of linoleic acid may aggravate type 2 autoimmune disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Dinoprostone / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Linoleic Acid / pharmacology*


  • Linoleic Acid
  • Dinoprostone