a1 Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, School of Food Biosciences, PO Box 226, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AP, UK
a2 Institute of Human Nutrition, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Bassett Crescent East, Southampton SO16 7PX, UK
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a collective term for a mixture of positional and geometric isomers of conjugated dienoic derivatives of linoleic acid. CLA has received considerable attention as a result of animal experiments that report anti-carcinogenic, anti-atherogenic and anti-diabetic properties, and modulation of body composition and immune function. Several studies of CLA supplementation in human subjects have now been published, but in contrast to animal studies there has been marked variation between reports on the health-related outcomes. The consensus from seventeen published studies in human subjects is that CLA does not affect body weight or body composition. Some detrimental effects of the trans-10,cis-12 CLA isomer have also been reported in terms of altered blood lipid composition and impaired insulin sensitivity. Finally, CLA has only limited effects on immune functions in man. However, there have been reports of some interesting isomer-specific effects of CLA on the blood lipid profile, but not on immune function. These isomer-specific effects need further investigation. Until more is known, CLA supplementation in man should be considered with caution.