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Fatty acid profile of plasma from aids patients and normal individuals


, : Fatty acid profile of plasma from aids patients and normal individuals. Archives of AIDS Research 3(1-3): 159-166

Essential polyunsaturated fatty acids may be the source of natural endogenous agents against HIV by preventing the spread of viral infection and by regulating immune responsiveness. Compared to controls, patients with AIDS exhibited abnormally low total plasma phospholipid and non-esterified fatty acid levels. The concentrations of C20 and C22 n-3 fatty acids were highly significantly reduced. The role of essential fatty acid metabolism and the consequence of a deficiency in n-3 fatty acids in the development of AIDS is considered. AIDS is either induced or precipitated by HIV (Gluckman et al, 1986). The mechanism by which the HIV infection is transformed progressively into a disease is not well understood in part due to the long latency period between the infection and the disease. It is possible that the disease is the result of a sequence of events that include the destruction of T helper lymphocytes by the virus, the induction of an autoimmune reaction directed at the immune system and triggered by HIV infection and the stimulation of biochemical changes induced by the virus leading to the formation of non-specific cytotoxic substances (Gluckman et al, 1986; Klatzmann and Montagnier, 1986; Klein et al, 1987). Which of these mechanisms contribute the most to the development of the disease is currently debated. In accord with these hypotheses, and in view of the long incubation period, metabolic changes could precede or parallel the pathophysiological changes associated with the different clinical stages culminating in AIDS. It seems plausible that such a correlation be based on a fundamental mechanism that progressively both provides the conditions for the replication of the virus and suppresses cellular immunity simultaneously. It is suggested that essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (EPUFA) may be the effectors of this fundamental mechanism. There are two main reasons to believe that EPUFA and/or their metabolites may play a role in controlling HIV infection and immune abnormalities associated with AIDS. First, EPUFA plays a major function in regulating immune response in vivo (Stackpoole and Mertin, 1982; Erickson, 1986; Johnston, 1985; Mertin et al, 1985; Horrobin, 1980). Second, certain EPUFA and metabolites modulate viral infectivity in vitro (Santoro et al, 1980; Giron, 1982; Kohn et al, 1980; Sands et al, 1979; Sola et al, 1986). If this hypothesis has some validity, abnormalities in the metabolism of these EPUFA should be found in patients with AIDS compared to normal individuals. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the levels of fatty acids in the plasma total lipid, phospholipid, and non-esterified fatty acid fractions from patients with AIDS and normal individuals. It would appear that patients with AIDS have highly abnormal levels of many individual fatty acids and of total phospholipid and total non-esterified fatty acids.

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