AbstractProstaglandin (PG) E1 plays a major role in the regulation of thymus development and T lymphocyte function and the evidence for this is reviewed. The production of PGE1 is dependent on nutritional factors with linoleic acid, gamma-linolenic acid, pyridoxine, zinc and vitamin C playing key roles. Inadequate intake of any one of these will lead to inadequate PGE1 formation and defective T lymphocyte function. Megadoses of any one are likely to be only minimally effective in the absence of adequate intakes of the others. By careful attention to diet it should be possible to activate T lymphocyte function in the large number of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, various auto-immune diseases, multiple sclerosis, and cancer in which such function is defective. It is possible that T lymphocytes may require both endogenous and exogenous PGE1 in order to function adequately. It is therefore of particular interest that many cancer cells and virally infected cells are unable to make PGE1 because they cannot convert linoleic acid to gamma-linolenic acid. The direct provision of gamma-linolenic or dihomo-gammalinolenic acids in these situations is worthy of full investigation.
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