Cutaneous mast cells are considered as key immune effectors in the pathogenesis of canine atopic dermatitis (CAD). These cells release immediate-phase and late-phase mediators of inflammation. Dietary fatty acids are incorporated in cellular membranes and seem to influence mediator production and release. A dietary intervention with n6- and n3-fatty acids is thought to alleviate clinical symptoms in atopic dogs. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of n6- and n3-fatty acids on the fatty acid composition of canine mastocytoma cells (C2) as a possible model for CAD.

The C2 was cultured in a basic medium called Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium (DEH) or with additional 14 mum linoleate (C18:2n6, DEH-LA), gamma-linolenate (C18:3n6, DEH-GLA), arachidonate (C20:4n6, DEH-AA), alpha-linolenate (C18:3n3, DEH-LnA), eicosapentaenoate (C20:5n3, DEH-EPA) or docosahexaenoate (C22:6n3, DEH-DHA). Cell growth was examined for 11 days in all media.

Cell growth increased from days 1 to 8 and decreased thereafter in all media conditions. The fatty acids supplied did not influence cell growth. The cells were harvested after 8 days for fatty acid analysis. The fatty acid composition was determined by gas chromatography after extraction and trans-esterification of the lipids.

The added fatty acids increased the concentration of these fatty acids in C2 differently (LA 4.9-fold, GLA 6.9-fold, AA 6-fold, LNA 9.3-fold, EPA 6.5-fold and DHA 8.4-fold). Furthermore, elongated and Delta6-desaturated products of the corresponding fatty acids were significantly elevated. However, Delta5-desaturated products were not measurable.

These results let us assume that C2 has no measurable activity of the Delta5-desaturase. In case the low activity of Delta5-desaturase is one of the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of CAD, C2 seems to be an adequate model for investigations in CAD.