An omega-6 fatty acid helps skin

April 14, 2010 at 11:47 PM

URBANA, Ill., April 14 (UPI) -- A study in mice found omega-6 fatty acid may help skin health and help prevent itching, U.S. researchers said.

Manabu Nakamura, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois, and doctoral student Chad Stroud developed a mouse model that allows researchers to knock out genes and create deficiencies of certain fats.

"In experiments with mice, we knocked out a gene responsible for an enzyme that helps the body to make arachidonic acid," Nakamura said in a statement.

"Without arachidonic acid, the mice developed severe ulcerative dermatitis. The animals were very itchy, they scratched themselves continuously and they developed a lot of bleeding sores."

When arachidonic acid -- polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid found in meat, eggs, dairy -- was added to the diet of the mice, the itching disappeared, the study said.

The findings are published in the Journal of Lipid Research.

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