BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. Researchers at the Boston University Medical Center report that patients with chronic gastrointestinal disorders have abnormal essential fatty acid profiles. Their study involved 25 patients with Crohn's disease, 11 with ulcerative colitis, 4 with celiac sprue, and 7 with short bowel syndrome. The patients and 56 non-obese healthy controls all provided fasting blood samples which were used to determine the fatty acid content of whole plasma. The researchers found that the patients tended to have significantly lower overall levels of saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat than did the controls. Their fatty acid profile was also shifted so that the percentage of polyunsaturated fat was lower than in the controls.
OTSU, JAPAN. Crohn's disease is an inflammatory disease involving intestinal pain, diarrhea, and malabsorption of nutrients. The disease is characterized by periods of active disease interspersed with periods of remission. Elemental diet (ED) therapy is the preferred treatment in Japan. Conventional treatment with prednisone and salycylates has been only marginally successful in extending the periods of remission. The ED therapy involves tube feeding (enteral nutrition) a mixture of free amino acids, short-chain maltodextrins, and low levels of fat in the form of soybean oil. Not surprisingly, compliance with this diet is poor resulting in shorter periods of remission.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA. Ulcerative colitis, a common form of inflammatory bowel disease, is accompanied by an increased level of leukotriene B4 in the lining of the colon. Fish oils are known to inhibit the synthesis of leukotrienes and it has therefore been postulated that they might be beneficial in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Researchers at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center have just released the results of a study aimed at testing this hypothesis.