Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) play an important role in several physiological processes and their concentration in phospholipids has been associated with several complex diseases, such as atopic disease. The level and composition of LC-PUFAs in the human body is highly dependent on their intake in the diet or on the intake of fatty acid precursors, which are endogenously elongated and desaturated to physiologically active LC-PUFAs. The most important enzymes in this reaction cascade are the Δ5 and Δ6 desaturase. Several studies in the last few years have revealed that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the 2 desaturase encoding genes (FADS1 and FADS2) are highly associated with the concentration of ω–6 and ω–3 fatty acids, showing that beside nutrition, genetic factors also play an important role in the regulation of LC-PUFAs. This review focuses on current knowledge of the impact of genetic polymorphisms on LC-PUFA metabolism and on their potential role in the development of atopic diseases.
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