Docosatetraenoic acid (DTA) is a very long chain omega-6 fatty acid with 22 carbons and 4 double bonds
(22:4n6). It is synthesized by adding 2 carbons atoms to the backbone of arachidonic acid using the elongase
enzyme. It is sometimes referred to by its common name adrenic acid and is one of the most abundant fatty acids
in the early human brain and the adrenal gland.
DTA has not been well studied, though it has recently been shown to have important physiologic functions.
It is now believed to be a pro-resolving mediator in inflammation by blocking neutrophilic metabolites
and dampening the inflammation response. For example, in osteoarthritis DTA enhances phagocytosis
by macrophages which clears products of cartilage breakdown in the joint space.
Supplementation of Docosatetraenoic acid is being studied as a promising intervention in osteoarthritis to dampen inflammation and prevent structural damage.
Much like AA (its precursor) Docosatetraenoic acid/adrenic acid is an important component of infant development. DTA is the third most abundant PUFA in the brain and it is necessary for neural tissue development.
DTA is also prevalent in the vasculature. It is metabolized to biologically active prostaglandins and epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs) which activate smooth muscle channels causing relaxation and vasodilation.
There is some literature to also support DTA/adrenic acid’s role in inducing oxidative stress and cell death through
modulating superoxide dismutase enzymes.
Elevations of Docosatetraenoic acid/adrenic acid are seen in diets rich in omega-6s and arachidonic acid (animal meat/fats and
eggs). The clinical significance of adrenic acid is still being studied. Its importance in fetal development,
osteoarthritis, and vasodilation have been documented, though some of the research is in animal studies. It
has also been found to be elevated in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic
Because its precursor is AA, elevations due to high AA intake have deleterious associations as outlined above in
the AA section.
Diets low in omega-6 fatty acids and arachidonic acid would result in lower levels of Docosatetraenoic acid/adrenic acid. The clinical significance of low levels may be relevant in infant and fetal development.
Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.
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