BACKGROUND: Leukotriene synthesis inhibitors and receptor antagonists are efficacious for the treatment of asthma. Diets containing the fatty acids gammalinolenic acid (GLA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) decrease leukotriene synthesis; however, their impact on asthma management and quality of life (QOL) has not been evaluated in asthmatic subjects.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate asthma management and the QOL of asthmatic adult subjects consuming a medical food emulsion containing GLA and EPA.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Trial 1 was a randomized, prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group trial in atopic subjects with mild-to-moderate asthma (n = 35 evaluable) consuming a low dose (0.75 g GLA + 0.5 g EPA), high dose (1.13 g GLA + 0.75 g EPA) or placebo emulsion daily. Subjects were questioned about their asthma management using a non-validated questionnaire after 2 and 4 weeks. Blood leukotrienes were measured at baseline and after 4 weeks. Trial 2 was an open-label study (n = 65 evaluable) where subjects consumed the low-dose medical food emulsion, EFF1009, daily. QOL and asthma management were measured using the validated Mini Asthma Quality of Life (MiniAQLQ) and the Asthma Control (ACQ) questionnaires, respectively, administered at baseline and after 4 weeks.

RESULTS: In Trial 1, leukotriene biosynthesis decreased (p < 0.05). Self-reported asthma status and bronchodilator use improved in subjects consuming low- and high-dose emulsion between week 2 and week 4 (p < 0.01), but not compared to placebo (p > 0.1). In Trial 2, mean +/- standard error total MiniAQLQ and ACQ scores improved by 1.5 +/- 0.2 and 1.0 +/- 0.1, respectively (p < 0.001). Subdomain scores from MiniAQLQ improved and rescue bronchodilator use decreased (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: The inclusion of the medical food EFF1009 in asthma management regimens can improve patient quality of life and decrease reliance on rescue medication.