Lipids and the immune response: from molecular mechanisms to clinical applications
Yaqoob, P. (2003) Lipids and the immune response: from molecular mechanisms to clinical applications. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 6 (2). pp. 133-150. ISSN 1363-1950
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Purpose of review This review critically evaluates recent studies investigating the effects of fatty acids on immune and inflammatory responses in both healthy individuals and in patients with inflammatory diseases, with some reference to animal studies where relevant. It examines recent findings describing the cellular and molecular basis for the modulation of immune function by fatty acids. The newly emerging area of diet-genotype interactions will also be discussed, with specific reference to the anti-inflammatory effects of fish oil. Recent findings Fatty acids are participants in many intracellular signalling pathways. They act as ligands for nuclear receptors regulating a host of cell responses, they influence the stability of lipid rafts, and modulate eicosanoid metabolism in cells of the immune system. Recent findings suggest that some or all of these mechanisms may be involved in the modulation of immune function by fatty acids. Summary Human studies investigating the relationship between dietary fatty acids and some aspects of the immune response have been disappointingly inconsistent. This review presents the argument that most studies have not been adequately powered to take into account the influence of variation (genotypic or otherwise) on parameters of immune function. There is well-documented evidence that fatty acids modulate T lymphocyte activation, and recent findings describe a range of potential cellular and molecular mechanisms. However, there are still many questions remaining, particularly with respect to the roles of nuclear receptors, for which fatty acids act as ligands, and the modulation of eicosanoid synthesis, for which fatty acids act as precursors.