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    Four outbreaks of leukoencephalomyelopathy in colonies of SPF cats on a long-term diet of irradiated dry cat food were observed in the Netherlands between 1989 and 2001. As a primary defect in myelin formation was suspected to be the cause of the disease and myelin consists mainly of lipids and their fatty acids, we investigated the fatty acid composition of the white matter of the spinal cord of affected and control cats and of irradiated and non-irradiated food. The irradiated food had low levels of alpha-linolenic acid compared to linoleic acid as well as a high total omega-6:omega-3 ratio of 7:1 in the irradiated and of 2:1 in the non-irradiated food. The white matter of the spinal cord showed low levels of linoleic acid and absence of alpha-linolenic acid in affected cats as well as absence of lignoceric and nervonic acid in both affected and control cats. These abnormalities in fatty acid composition of the white matter of the spinal cord may reflect an increased need for alpha-linolenic acid as a substrate for longer chain omega-3 fatty acids to compose myelin and thus indicate a particular species sensitivity to dietary deficiency in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid in cats. Our findings indicate that abnormalities in fatty acid metabolism in myelin play an essential role in the pathogenesis of this acquired form of leukoencephalomyelopathy in cats. © 2019 The Authors. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition Published by Blackwell Verlag GmbH.


    Ted S G A M van den Ingh, Guy C M Grinwis, Ronald Jan Corbee. Leukoencephalomyelopathy in cats linked to abnormal fatty acid composition of the white matter of the spinal cord and of irradiated dry cat food. Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition. 2019 Sep;103(5):1556-1563

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    PMID: 31172611

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