Linoleic acid supplementation results in increased arachidonic acid and eicosanoid production in CF airway cells and in cftr-/- transgenic mice

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2010 Nov;299(5):L599-606. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00346.2009. Epub 2010 Jul 23.


Cystic fibrosis (CF) patients display a fatty acid imbalance characterized by low linoleic acid levels and variable changes in arachidonic acid. This led to the recommendation that CF patients consume a high-fat diet containing >6% linoleic acid. We hypothesized that increased conversion of linoleic acid to arachidonic acid in CF leads to increased levels of arachidonate-derived proinflammatory metabolites and that this process is exacerbated by increasing linoleic acid levels in the diet. To test this hypothesis, we determined the effect of linoleic acid supplementation on downstream proinflammatory biomarkers in two CF models: 1) in vitro cell culture model using 16HBE14o(-) sense [wild-type (WT)] and antisense (CF) human airway epithelial cells; and 2) in an in vivo model using cftr(-/-) transgenic mice. Fatty acids were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS), and IL-8 and eicosanoids were measured by ELISA. Neutrophils were quantified in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from knockout mice following linoleic acid supplementation and exposure to aerosolized Pseudomonas LPS. Linoleic acid supplementation increased arachidonic acid levels in CF but not WT cells. IL-8, PGE(2), and PGF(2α) secretion were increased in CF compared with WT cells, with a further increase following linoleic acid supplementation. cftr(-/-) Mice supplemented with 100 mg of linoleic acid had increased arachidonic acid levels in lung tissue associated with increased neutrophil infiltration into the airway compared with control mice. These findings support the hypothesis that increasing linoleic acid levels in the setting of loss of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) function leads to increased arachidonic acid levels and proinflammatory mediators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acid / biosynthesis*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Cell Line
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diet therapy*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / immunology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Eicosanoids / biosynthesis*
  • Eicosanoids / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Interleukin-8 / immunology
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Linoleic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Linoleic Acid / therapeutic use
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CFTR
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / immunology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / cytology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Eicosanoids
  • Fatty Acids
  • Interleukin-8
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Linoleic Acid