In a previous study conducted in Nigeria, we found that children with sickle cell disease (SCD) had exceedingly low total serum cholesterol levels (mean=100-102mg/dl). The fact that significant reductions in the levels of certain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have been documented in the serum phospholipids of these same SCD subjects led us to inquire as to the fatty acid composition of the cholesteryl esters (CE) in their serum. Lecithin:cholesterol acyl transferase (LCAT), the enzyme in blood that catalyzes the reaction in which tissue cholesterol is acylated prior to its removal from cell membranes, is relatively specific for certain PUFA. CE in blood serum from 43 male and 42 female children with SCD, ages 4-18 years, and equal numbers of age- and gender-matched controls were analyzed for their fatty acid composition. Relative to the non-SCD controls, the CE of the SCD subjects contained 9% less linoleic acid, 16% less arachidonic acid, 40% less alpha-linolenic acid, 50% less eicosapentaenoic acid, and 36% less docosahexaenoic acid, but 15% more palmitic acid and 10% more oleic acid. Overall, the acyl chains of the CE of the SCD subjects were less fluid than those of the controls, as determined by comparison of their mean melting points (MMP) and double bond indices (DBI). MMP and DBI were both estimated from the individual constituent fatty acids comprising the CE acyl chains. The strongest correlations between MMP and fatty acid mole percent were seen with palmitic acid and linoleic acid. These results show that the fatty acid composition of the serum CE of children with SCD is abnormal relative to controls who do not have this hematologic disorder. We speculate that suboptimal fatty acid nutrition in Nigerian children with SCD compromises their ability to remove cholesterol from their tissues due to preference of the LCAT enzyme for PUFA, thereby accounting, in part at least, for the low total serum cholesterol levels one finds in children with SCD.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine, University of New Mexico, Room 249 BMSB, 87131, Albuquerque, NM, USA., , ,