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Essential fatty acids and eicosanoids

A. Sinclair and R. Gibson, eds. 1992. Champaign, Illinois, USA.
American Oil Chemists' Society. 482 pp. ISBN 0-935315-43-8.

This volume contains the papers by the 98 speakers who were invited to give presentations at the Third International Congress on Essential Fatty Acids and Eicosanoids held in Adelaide, Australia from 1 to 5 March 1992. The congress brought together research scientists from around the world and from different disciplines to discuss the most recent developments concerning the roles of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and eicosanoids in human nutrition and in other biological processes. The overall aim was to explore the importance of EFAs and eicosanoids for living organisms.

A major theme in the volume is the biological function of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) at the fundamental molecular and cellular levels. Topics include the physical properties of artificial membranes containing DHA; the significance of DHA in the retina and in the brain and the delivery of DHA to these tissues; and the study of n-3 deficiency in animals as a means of understanding the consequences of DHA depletion in mammals.

Several papers are concerned with the biosynthesis of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in mammals. The types of biological markers that can provide information about the adequacy of EFA intake are also examined. Other papers discuss the roles of EFAs and eicosanoids in the development of disease states, particularly those of the cardiovascular system. The functions of PUFAs in inflammation, in immunomodulation, in diabetes and in the skin are also dealt with. Some papers examine the role and function of EFAs in the nutrition of the foetus and newborn infants, especially those born prematurely.

Finally, the publication includes papers considered to be "hot topics" in which the authors present their research in progress. This section will certainly stimulate debate. Tentative or provisional results include the most up-to-date research on the following topics: EFA deficiency and cellular expression of prostaglandin H synthase; modulation of cell growth and expression of immediate early response genes by endogenous arachidonic acid metabolites; EFA metabolism in human airway epithelial cells; effect of Cl-channel blockers; preliminary evidence that dietary PUFAs modulate receptor-mediated calcium channels; and inflammation and cancer: effect of controlled feeding on murine tumorigenesis and anaphylactic shock.

Irela Mazar
Nutrition Officer,
Nutrition Planning, Assessment and Evaluation Service