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Arterioscler Thromb. 1994 Nov;14(11):1829-36.

The omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoate reduces cytokine-induced expression of proatherogenic and proinflammatory proteins in human endothelial cells.

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Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass 02115.


The mechanisms by which dietary fatty acids can modulate atherogenesis and inflammation are poorly understood. Induction in endothelial cells of adhesion molecules for circulating leukocytes and of inflammatory mediators by cytokines probably contributes to the early phases of atherogenesis and inflammation. We report here that incorporation into cellular lipids of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a specific fatty acid of the omega 3 family, decreases cytokine-induced expression of endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecules, secretion of inflammatory mediators, and leukocyte adhesion to cultured endothelial cells. DHA, but not eicosapentaenoic acid, decreased in a dose- and time-dependent fashion the expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) induced by interleukin (IL)-1, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), IL-4, or bacterial lipopolysaccharide, with half-maximum inhibition at < 10 mumol/L. This reduction required prolonged (24- to 96-hour) exposure of endothelial cells to DHA and correlated with the degree of DHA incorporation into cellular lipids. DHA also limited cytokine-stimulated endothelial cell expression of E-selectin and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 and the secretion of IL-6 and IL-8 into the medium but not the surface expression of constitutive surface molecules. Cyclooxygenase inhibition did not block the effect of DHA on VCAM-1. In parallel with reduced surface VCAM-1 protein expression, DHA reduced VCAM-1 mRNA induction by IL-1 or TNF. DHA treatment also reduced the adhesion of human monocytes and of monocytic U937 cells to cytokine-stimulated endothelial cells. These properties of DHA may contribute to antiatherogenic and anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3 fatty acids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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