Unsaturated fatty acids selectively induce an inflammatory environment in human endothelial cell

Michal Toborek, Yong Woo Lee, Rosario Garrido, Simone Kaiser, Bernhard Hennig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


Background: Activation of the vascular endothelium by dietary fatty acids may be among the most critical early events in the development of atherosclerosis. However, the specific effects of fatty acids on inflammatory responses in endothelial cells are not fully understood. Objective: The present study focused on the induction of inflammatory genes in human endothelial cells exposed to individual dietary fatty acids. Because of the significance of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) and activator protein 1 (AP-1) in the regulation of inflammatory gene expression, we also determined the effects of fatty acids on NF-κB and AP-1 transcriptional activation. Design: Human umbilical vein endothelial cells were exposed to dietary mono- and polyunsaturated 18-carbon fatty acids. Transcriptional activation of NF-κB and AP-1 was determined in human umbilical vein endothelial cells transfected with reporter constructs regulated by these transcription factors. Induction of the inflammatory genes was studied by use of reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Results: Of the fatty acids studied, linoleic acid stimulated NF-κB and AP-1 transcriptional activation the most. In addition, treatment with this fatty acid markedly enhanced messenger RNA levels of tumor necrosis factor α, monocyte chemoattractant protein 1, vascular cell adhesion molecule 1, and intercellular adhesion molecule 1. Treatment with linolenic acid stimulated only a moderate induction of the genes encoding for these inflammatory mediators, and exposure to oleic acid either had no effect or resulted in decreased inflammatory gene messenger RNA. In addition, exposure to both linoleic and linolenic acids strongly stimulated induction of the phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase gene. Conclusion: Specific unsaturated dietary fatty acids, particularly linoleic acid, can selectively stimulate the development of a proinflammatory environment within the vascular endothelium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-125
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Activator protein 1
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Fatty acids
  • Human endothelial cells
  • Inflammatory genes
  • Nuclear factor κB
  • Transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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