Fatty Acid Found in Milk May Help Control Inflammation

CLA is produced on one of the four
cow stomachs: the rumen
© Hemera

"It's clear from previous research that conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, prevents inflammatory damage resulting from immune response," says Mark Cook, a professor of animal science in University of Wisconsin-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. "We've identified the biochemical mechanism by which this occurs."

CLA, which is synthesised by microbial fermentation in the rumen of dairy cows, exists naturally in a number of structural forms. Cook's team determined that one of the variants inhibits the COX-2 protein by blocking a key cellular pathway. The COX-2 protein is known to play a significant role in many inflammatory diseases and is an important drug target for treating arthritis and cancer, Cook says.

While the amount of the anti-inflammatory isomer of CLA in milk is small relative to other fatty acids in milk, there may still be enough to elicit an effect if someone consumes dairy products every day, says Cook. He is planning a study, in collaboration with researchers in the dairy science and food science departments, to determine whether the amount of anti-inflammatory CLA in milk can be increased by changing dairy cow diets.

Using CLA as a natural way to prevent collateral damage from the immune system's response to invading pathogens may work out. "The ideal solution is to let the immune system fight bacteria, but at the same time to maintain the overall health of the system," he says.

MEDICA.de; Source: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins