Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) are immunomodulatory, but their role in allergy development is controversial. We investigated whether proportions of LCPUFAs in serum phospholipids were related to allergic diagnosis, seafood intake and LCPUFA proportions in cord blood.
Serum was obtained from 148 birth cohort children at 13 years of age. Forty had atopic eczema, 53 had respiratory allergy, and 55 were nonallergic. Proportions of LCPUFAs were determined in serum phospholipids; cord blood from 128 of the individuals was previously analysed. Seafood intake was estimated using questionnaires.
Allergic and nonallergic individuals did not differ significantly regarding individual LCPUFAs. However, arachidonic acid over docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) ratio was higher in allergic, compared with nonallergic, adolescents. In nonallergic individuals, LCPUFA proportions in cord serum and adolescent serum correlated weakly. In individuals with atopic eczema and respiratory allergy, these correlations were weak or absent. A moderate correlation between seafood intake and serum DHA was seen in nonallergic individuals and those with respiratory allergy, but not in those with atopic eczema.
Serum LCPUFA pattern was similar in allergic and nonallergic adolescents. Fatty acid metabolism may be altered in atopic eczema subjects, suggested by poor correlations between fatty acid intake and serum levels.