Dietary α-Linolenic Acid Diminishes Experimental Atherogenesis and Restricts T Cell-Driven Inflammation

Study Questions:

How does dietary α-linolenic acid (ALA) potentially reduce atherosclerosis?


Atherosclerotic-prone mice were fed a diet with either high or low ALA content for 16 weeks. Indices of fatty acid metabolism, atherosclerotic plaque characteristics, and cytokines were measured.


Dietary ALA increased aortic tissue levels of ALA as well as n-3 long chain fatty acids (LC n-3 FA). The high ALA diet reduced plaque area by 50% and decreased plaque T cell content and activity as well as expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) and TNFα.


The authors concluded that dietary ALA diminishes experimental atherogenesis and restricts T cell-driven inflammation, thus providing the proof-of-principle that plant-derived ALA may provide a valuable alternative to marine LC n-3 FA.


A recent placebo-controlled, randomized trial (AOA) revealed no significant effects of low-dose ALA supplementation on cardiovascular events in patients with previous myocardial infarction who were on other cardioprotective medications, including statins. However, there may be subgroups such as diabetics and women who might derive significant benefits. Higher ALA doses may also be required to achieve optimal benefits. Additional mechanistic insight into the effects of ALA on vascular endpoints may thus lead to more rational dosing and treatment strategies. The findings reported in this preclinical study support further clinical investigation into this area.

Clinical Topics: Dyslipidemia, Prevention, Lipid Metabolism, Nonstatins, Diet

Keywords: alpha-Linolenic Acid, Myocardial Infarction, Atherosclerosis, Plaque, Atherosclerotic, T-Lymphocytes, Cytokines, Fatty Acids, Omega-3, Diet

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