Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that afatty acid found in cows' milk is a naturalregulator of the cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) protein, which plays a significant role ininflammatory diseases such as arthritis.This acid, called conjugated linoleic acid(CLA), "prevents inflammatory damageresulting from immune response," accordingto Mark Cook, PhD, a professor of animalscience at the university's College ofAgricultural and Life Sciences.
Although the amount of the anti-inflammatoryisomer of CLA in milk is small incomparison with the amount of other fattyacids, there may still be enough to producea positive effect in a patient whoconsumes dairy products daily. Dr. Cook'steam is planning a study to determinewhether the amount of CLA in milk can beincreased by changing the diets of dairycows.
CLA, which is synthesized by microbialfermentation in the rumen of dairy cows,exists naturally in different forms. Dr.Cook's team found that one of the formsinhibits the COX-2 protein by blocking akey cellular pathway. COX-2 is an importanttarget of many drugs used to treatarthritis, said Dr. Cook.