Effect of erucic acid on platelets in patients with adrenoleukodystrophy

Biochem Mol Med. 1996 Apr;57(2):125-33. doi: 10.1006/bmme.1996.0018.


In a clinical trial for the management of adrenoleukodystrophy, we analyzed the effect of erucic acid (a component of Lorenzo's oil) on platelet number, fatty acid composition, and function. Analysis of variance was performed to compare platelet counts before starting treatment with Lorenzo's oil and at 6 and 12 months. We measured platelet fatty acid composition in subjects and control patients and correlated these values with their platelet counts using discriminant analysis. After 6 months, the mean platelet count decreased from 247,000/mm3 to 169,000/mm3 (+/- 1 standard deviation 58,000,n =39), P < 0.0001 compared to 18 subjects on a control diet having a mean baseline platelet count of 259,000/mm3 (+/- 1 standard deviation 67,000, n = 19) and at 6 months 267,000/mm3 (+/- 1 standard deviation 71,000). We found at P < 0.05 that the platelet counts showed a strong inverse relationship with erucic acid levels and other omega 9 fatty acids that form from the administration of the erucic acid component of Lorenzo's oil. Morphologic and platelet sizing measurements suggest that the physical properties of platelets may also be affected by erucic acid. Our studies show that the ingestion of erucic acid affects platelet biology. This indicates that platelet counts and properties are influenced by monounsaturated fatty acids, in addition to the well-known effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids. In areas of the world where erucic acid is widely ingested, the biology of platelets in these populations may be affected.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenoleukodystrophy / blood*
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy / therapy
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects*
  • Blood Platelets / physiology
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated*
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Drug Combinations
  • Erucic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Erucic Acids / blood
  • Erucic Acids / pharmacology
  • Erucic Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Platelet Count / drug effects*
  • Time Factors
  • Triglycerides / administration & dosage
  • Triglycerides / pharmacology
  • Triglycerides / therapeutic use*
  • Triolein / administration & dosage
  • Triolein / pharmacology
  • Triolein / therapeutic use*


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Drug Combinations
  • Erucic Acids
  • Lorenzo's oil
  • Triglycerides
  • Triolein