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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The degree of unsaturation of dietary fatty acids and the development of atherosclerosis (review).

Atherosclerosis is the principal contributor to the pathogenesis of myocardial and cerebral infarction, gangrene and loss of function in the extremities. It results from an excessive inflammatory-fibroproliferative response to various forms of insult to the endothelium and smooth muscle of the artery wall. Atherosclerotic lesions develop fundamentally in three stages: dysfunction of the vascular endothelium, fatty streak formation and fibrous cap formation. Each stage is regulated by the action of vasoactive molecules, growth factors and cytokines. This multifactorial etiology can be modulated through the diet. The degree of unsaturation of dietary fatty acids affects lipoprotein composition as well as the expression of adhesion molecules and other pro-inflammatory factors, and the thrombogenicity associated with atherosclerosis development. Thus, the preventive effects of a monounsaturated-fatty acid-rich diet on atherosclerosis may be explained by the enhancement of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels and the impairment of low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels, the low-density lipoprotein susceptibility to oxidation, cellular oxidative stress, thrombogenicity and atheroma plaque formation. On the other hand, the increase of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and the reduction of thrombogenicity, atheroma plaque formation and vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation may account for the beneficial effects of polyunsaturated fatty acid on the prevention of atherosclerosis. Thus, the advantages of the Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil and fish on atherosclerosis may be due to the modulation of the cellular oxidative stress/antioxidant status, the modification of lipoproteins and the down-regulation of inflammatory mediators.[1]


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