The Role of Nutrient Essential Fatty Acids in Gastric Mucosal Protection

  • Daniel Hollander
  • Andrzej Tarnawski


Dietary therapy and nutritional manipulation have fallen into disfavor in the management of peptic ulcer disease. Before the advent of potent antacids and H2-receptor antagonists, dietary therapy for patients with ulcer disease was very important. Patients were instructed to follow complicated rigid schemes designed to eliminate irritating foods, as these patients were placed on bland, healing diets. Patients became dietary and social cripples and were often sentenced to a lifelong adherence to dietary restriction. Fortunately, these days are over. Dietary therapy fell into oblivion because it did not work and because effective drugs appeared on the market. We certainly would not want to return to those “good old days,” but recent studies from our laboratory have raised the possibility that specific dietary factors can be extremely effective in preventing mucosal injury by alcohol, aspirin, and perhaps other irritants. These protective dietary factors are the two essential fatty acids — arachidonic and linoleic and related fatty acids.


Linoleic Acid Arachidonic Acid Gastric Mucosa Essential Fatty Acid Peptic Ulcer Disease 
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Annotated Bibliography

  1. Crawford MA: Background to EFA and their prostanoid derivatives. Br Med Bull 39:210–213, 1983. This is an excellent review of biological role of essential fatty acids with a special focus on their role as prostaglandin precursors.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Grant HW, Palmer KR, Kelly RW, et al: Dietary linoleic acid, gastric acid and prostaglandin secretion. Gastroenterology 94:955–959, 1988. This paper demonstrates that solubilized linoleic acid increases gastric luminal prostaglandins concentration and inhibits acid secretion in normal human volunteers.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Hollander D, Tarnawski A: Dietary essential fatty acids and the decline in peptic ulcer disease — A hypothesis. Gut 27:239–242, 1986. This paper presents a hypothesis linking consumption of dietary essential fatty acids and decline in peptic ulcer disease.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hollander D, Tarnawski A, Ivey KJ, et al: Arachidonic acid protection of rat gastric mucosa against ethanol injury. J Lab Clin Med 100:286–308, 1982. This paper demonstrated for the first time the protective action of arachidonic acid against necrotizing agent (ethanol) injury of the gastric mucosa in an animal model.Google Scholar
  5. Schepp W, Steffen B, Ruoff HJ, et al: Modulation of rat gastric mucosal prostaglandin E2 release by dietary linoleic acid: effect on gastric acid secretion and stress-induced mucosal damage. Gastroenterology 95:18–25, 1988. These investigators found that a long-term diet rich in linoleic acid reduced gastric acid secretion, stimulated gastric generation of prostaglandin E2, and reduced formation of the stress ulcers in rats. A diet deficient in linoleic acid had the opposite effect.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Tarnawski A, Hollander D, Stachura J, et al: Arachidonic acid protection of gastric mucosa against alcohol injury: Sequential analysis of morphologic and functional changes. J Lab Clin Med 102: 34–51, 1983. This paper explores the time sequence of morphological and functional protection of the gastric mucosa by arachidonic acid against ethanol injury in a rat model.Google Scholar
  7. Tarnawski A, Hollander D, Gergely H: Protection of the gastric mucosa by linoleic acid — A nutrient essential fatty acid. Clin Invest Med 10:132–136, 1987. This paper provides experimental evidence that solubilized linoleic acid is also able to protect the gastric mucosa against ethanol injury in the rat.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Hollander
    • 1
  • Andrzej Tarnawski
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Gastroenterology Department of MedicineUniversity of California-IrvineIrvineUSA
  2. 2.Veterans Administration Medical CenterLong BeachUSA

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