Blood & Laboratory Values

Dihomogammalinolenic Acid – Function & Diseases

Dihomogammalinolenic acid

Dihomogammalinolenic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that plays a major role in regulating inflammatory processes. It is also an important part of our cell membranes . Polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential nutritional components. They only occur in larger amounts in plants.

What is dihomogammalinolenic acid?

In addition to proteins and sugars , fats are the third important nutritional component. Fatty acids are long chains or rings of carbon atoms. They are divided into saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fatty acids have at least one double bond, i.e. two carbon atoms which are linked by two electrons.

Since another atom could be added to the chain at this point instead of a double bond, one speaks of an unsaturated fatty acid. An important subgroup are the polyunsaturated fatty acids with two or more double bonds. The polyunsaturated fatty acids are divided into the groups of omega-3 fatty acids , omega-6 fatty acids and omega-9 fatty acids, depending on which carbon atom the first double bond occurs on.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are only found in plants and must be ingested with food. Animals and humans can only store existing polyunsaturated fatty acids and convert them to other fatty acids. As this process takes place very slowly, the content and composition of polyunsaturated fatty acids in food is very important.

Dihomogammalinolenic acid (abbreviation: GDLA ) is an omega-6 fatty acid that is produced from linoleic acid in plants and animals . GDLA consists of 20 carbon atoms, has three double bonds and is the precursor to a number of important substances in the body.

Function, effect & tasks

With a length of 20 carbon atoms, dihomogammalinolenic acid is the starting product for the eicosanoid pathway. The Greek word “eikos” means that this metabolic pathway begins with 20-carbon fatty acids. 

The DGLA is mainly converted to prostaglandins and thromboxanes of the 1st series and to a lesser extent to arachidonic acid (AA). The prostaglandins and thromboxanes of the 2nd series are then formed from arachidonic acid. Series 2 prostaglandins are released by cells in our body when injured or infected, leading to the development of inflammation. Inflammation plays an important role in the immune system because it stimulates the formation of antibodies and promotes the regeneration of injured tissue. For a number of diseases such as rheumatism , asthma , allergies and other autoimmune diseaseshowever, 2nd series prostaglandins are the triggers. In addition, it is also desirable in the case of normal inflammations to weaken their duration and intensity. This effect has prostaglandins of the 1st series, which arise directly from GDLA. In addition to prostaglandins, thromboxanes are also formed from GDLA and AA.

Thromboxanes promote blood clotting and are named after thrombosis , a blockage of blood vessels by blood clots . 2nd series thromboxanes, which are formed from arachidonic acid, promote blood clotting. In contrast, series 1 thromboxanes, which are formed directly from GDLA, reduce the risk of thrombosis. In general, it can be said that a good supply of GDLA reduces inflammation-related diseases such as Astham, rheumatism or allergies and lowers the risk of thrombosis, while high levels of arachidonic acid have the opposite effect. Like all fatty acids, DGLA is also a component of the cell membrane(cell envelope) of our cells, but a special function could not yet be identified.

Formation, Occurrence, Properties & Optimal Values

The most common unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid is linolenic. Linolene is the Latin name for linseed oil, which is obtained from flax or linseed. In plants and animals, the enzyme delta-6 desaturase produces gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) from linolenic acid, which is then converted to dihomogammalinolenic acid.

Since the conversion takes a lot of time and energy, the composition of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in our body should be controlled by the diet. GDLA is found in small amounts in all foods and there is no known way to increase direct intake of GDLA. Therefore there are no consumption recommendations. However, consumption of the chemical precursor, gamma-linolenic acid, can be controlled and increased.

It is present in large amounts in borage oil (20%), evening primrose oil (10%), evening primrose oil and oat oil (3%). Evidence shows that increased consumption of GLA leads to higher blood levels of GDLA, but not arachidonic acid. However, a higher intake of the common precursor, linolenic, does not lead to increased GLA or GDLA values.

Diseases & Disorders

The uncritical consumption of large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids harbors a number of health risks. On the one hand, more fat is generally absorbed through this diet, which can lead to general disorders of the fat metabolism ( obesity ).

The role of polyunsaturated fatty acids as messenger substances also leads to further complications. Meat and animal fat contain large amounts of arachidonic acid, which produces the pro-inflammatory and thrombosis-promoting 2nd series prostaglandins and thromboxanes. Too much meat can therefore increase susceptibility to autoimmune diseases. Elevated levels of GLA or GDLA have not yet been noticed in the context of negative medical indications. However, it is difficult to consume large amounts of these fats.

Therefore, one should pay attention to the composition of the fats in the diet and consciously consume omega-3 oils and omega-6 oils such as gamma-linolenic acid on a daily basis. This can be ensured through dietary supplements or the purchase of special oils.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.