New findings indicate that treating cystic fibrosis with a common fatty acid may reverse or prevent abnormalities in organs affected by the disease. researchers are reporting that they can improve changes in organs affected by cystic fibrosis by supplementing the feed of cystic fibrosis mice with high levels of docosahexanoic acid (DHA), a common fatty acid. Arachidonic acid levels (a different fatty acid than DHA) are dramatically increased in tissues from the pancreas, the lungs, and the intestine taken from cystic fibrosis mice -- the same organs that are most affected by the disease in human patients with cystic fibrosis.
At the same time, DHA levels are significantly reduced. An increase in arachidonic acid means that the cell is at risk for inflammation and mucus secretion, which we observe in cystic fibrosis," they note. DHA in turn regulates both arachidonic acid and fluids coming in and out of the cell. "A decrease in DHA would (therefore) be expected to leave the organ dysfunctional. The fact that investigators were able to reverse abnormalities in both the pancreas and the intestine by restoring a more normal balance between the two fatty acids suggests that these abnormalities are responsible for what happens in cystic fibrosis, the team reports. High levels of inflammation usually seen in the lungs of cystic fibrosis mice also fell when animals were pretreated with the same high doses of DHA.
13th Annual North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference. Seattle, WA October 8, 1999
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
Clinical trials evaluating the effect of oral DHA in patients with cystic fibrosis could start early next year. However, it is important to recognize that DHA should rarely, if ever, be used without EPA. This is easy enough to do since that is the way it comes naturally packaged in fish oil. It would certainly seem reasonable to use fish oil as a supplement in anyone with this disease since it is a natural food that seems to have enormous potential for improvement with virtually no downside risk.