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J Nutr Biochem. 2003 Oct;14(10):554-67.

Role of nuclear receptors in the regulation of gene expression by dietary fatty acids (review).

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Department of Veterinary Science and Center for Molecular Toxicology and Carcinogenesis, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Long chain fatty acids, derived either from endogenous metabolism or by nutritional sources play significant roles in important biological processes of membrane structure, production of biologically active compounds, and participation in cellular signaling processes. Recently, the structure of dietary fatty acids has become an important issue in human health because ingestion of saturated fats (containing triglycerides composed of saturated fatty acids) is considered harmful, while unsaturated fats are viewed as beneficial. It is important to note that the molecular reason for this dichotomy still remains elusive. Since fatty acids are important players in development of pathology of cardiovascular and endocrine system, understanding the key molecular targets of fatty acids, in particular those that discriminate between saturated and unsaturated fats, is much needed. Recently, insights have been gained on several fatty acid-activated nuclear receptors involved in gene expression. In other words, we can now envision long chain fatty acids as regulators of signal transduction processes and gene regulation, which in turn will dictate their roles in health and disease. In this review, we will discuss fatty acid-mediated regulation of nuclear receptors. We will focus on peroxisome proliferators-activated receptors (PPARs), liver X receptors (LXR), retinoid X receptors (RXRs), and Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor alpha (HNF-4alpha), all of which play pivotal roles in dietary fatty acid-mediated effects. Also, the regulation of gene expression by Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLA), a family of dienoic fatty acids with a variety of beneficial effects, will be discussed.

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