Most Popular in:

Physiology

Email This Item! Print This Item!

Omega-6 Fatty Acid Critical to Skin Health

Posted: May 12, 2010

If you have clients who experience severely itchy skin, perhaps they are not getting enough omega-6 fatty acids in their diets. Recommend that they talk to their physician or a dietician for a possible solution.

University of Illinois scientists have learned that a specific omega-6 fatty acid may be critical to maintaining skin health.

"In experiments with mice, we knocked out a gene responsible for an enzyme that helps the body to make arachidonic acid. Without arachidonic acid, the mice developed severe ulcerative dermatitis. The animals were very itchy, they scratched themselves continuously, and they developed a lot of bleeding sores," said Manabu Nakamura, a U of I associate professor of food science and human nutrition.

When arachidonic acid was added to the animals' diet, the itching went away, he said.

Nakamura's team has been focusing on understanding the function of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, and doctoral student Chad Stroud developed a mouse model to help them understand the physiological roles of these fats. By knocking out genes, they can create deficiencies of certain fats and learn about their functions.