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Nervonic acid and demyelinating disease.

Medical hypotheses (1994-04-01)
J R Sargent, K Coupland, R Wilson
ABSTRACT

Demyelination in adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) is associated with an accumulation of very long chain saturated fatty acids such as 26:0 stemming from a genetic defect in the peroxisomal beta oxidation system responsible for the chain shortening of these fatty acids. Long chain monoenoic acids such as erucic acid, 22:1(n-9), can normalise elevated serum levels of 26:0 in ALD by depressing their biosynthesis from shorter chain saturated fatty acids. Sphingolipids from post mortem ALD brain have decreased levels of nervonic acid, 24:1(n-9), and increased levels of stearic acid, 18:0. Increased levels of 26:0 are accompanied by decreased nervonic acid biosynthesis in skin fibroblasts from ALD patients. Sphingolipids from post mortem MS brain have the same decreased 24:1(n-9) and increased 18:0 seen in post mortem ALD brain. The 24:1(n-9) content of sphingomyelin is depressed in erythrocytes from multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Defects in the microsomal biosynthesis of very long chain fatty acids including 24:1(n-9) in 'jumpy' and 'quaking' mice are accompanied by impaired myelination. An impairment in the provision of nervonic acid in demyelinating diseases is indicated, suggesting that dietary therapy with oils rich in very long chain monenoic acid fatty acids may be beneficial in such conditions.

MATERIALS
Product Number
Brand
Product Description

Sigma-Aldrich
Nervonic acid, ≥99% (capillary GC)
Supelco
Nervonic acid, analytical standard