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BACKGROUND AND AIMS - Ulcerative colitis (UC) is associated with increased dietary intake of fat and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Modification of fat metabolism may alter inflammation and disease severity. Our aim was to assess differences in dietary and serum fatty acid levels between control and UC subjects and associations with disease activity and inflammatory cytokines.
METHODS - Dietary histories, serum, and colonic tissue samples were prospectively collected from 137 UC subjects and 38 controls. Both histologic injury and the Mayo Disease Activity Index were assessed. Serum and tissue cytokines were measured by Luminex assay. Serum fatty acids were obtained by gas chromatography.
RESULTS - UC subjects had increased total fat and oleic acid (OA) intake, but decreased arachidonic acid (AA) intake vs controls. In serum, there was less percent saturated fatty acid (SFA) and AA, with higher monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), linoleic acid, OA, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) in UC. Tissue cytokine levels were directly correlated with SFA and inversely correlated with PUFA, EPA, and DPA in UC subjects, but not controls. 5-aminosalicylic acid therapy blunted these associations.
CONCLUSIONS - In summary, we found differences in serum fatty acids in UC subjects that correlated with pro-inflammatory tissue cytokines. We propose that fatty acids may affect cytokine production and thus be immunomodulatory in UC.