Plasma fatty acid levels and gene expression related to lipid metabolism in peripheral blood mononuclear cells: A cross-sectional study in healthy subjects


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Genes & Nutrition;2018 13:9



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Background: Solid evidence indicates that intake of marine n-3 fatty acids lower serum triglycerides, and that replacing saturated fatty acids (SFA) with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) reduces plasma total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol. The molecular mechanisms underlying these health beneficial effects are however not completely elucidated. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the expression of genes related to lipid metabolism in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) depending on the plasma levels of n-6 and n-3 39 fatty acids and the SFA to PUFA ratio. Methods: Fifty-four healthy subjects were grouped into tertiles (n=18) based on plasma levels of n-6 and n-3 fatty acids and the SFA to PUFA ratio. The PBMC gene expression levels among subjects in the highest versus the lowest tertiles were compared. In total, 285 genes related to cholesterol and triglyceride metabolism were selected for this explorative study. Results: Among the 285 selected genes, 161 were defined as expressed in the PBMCs. The 47 plasma SFA to PUFA ratio was associated with the highest number of significantly different expressed genes (25 gene transcripts), followed by plasma n-6 fatty acid level (15 gene transcripts) and plasma n-3 fatty acid level (8 gene transcripts). In particular, genes involved in cholesterol homeostasis were significantly different expressed among subjects with high compared to low plasma SFA to PUFA ratio. Conclusion: Genes involved in lipid metabolism were differentially expressed in PBMCs depending on the plasma fatty acid levels. This finding may increase our understanding of how fatty acids influence lipid metabolism at a molecular level in humans.




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