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January 1985

Linolenic Acid Deficiency

Author Affiliations

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics School of Medicine State University of New York at Buffalo Buffalo, NY 14214

Arch Neurol. 1985;42(1):15-16. doi:10.1001/archneur.1985.04060010017006

To the Editor.  —In a recent report in the Archives May1 described a patient in whom sensory neuronopathy developed after one month's maintenance on a parenteral solution that contained no lipid. Recovery occurred soon after reinstitution of enteral alimentation. Potential causative factors that were ruled out in this, or previously reported, similar cases include heavy metal intoxication, porphyria, vitamin B12 deficiency, hypothyroidism, and neurosyphilis. The possible role of a deficiency of linolenic acid seems not to have been considered.The essentialness of certain unsaturated fatty acids in the human diet was generally accepted following the studies in infants by Hansen et al in the early 1960s.2 However, there remained uncertainty as to their number; standard textbooks usually list linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, and linolenic acid. Of these, linoleic acid has been thought to be the only truly essential fatty acid (EFA) because (1) linoleate reverses the dermatologic signs