Macrophage fatty acid metabolism and atherosclerosis: The rise of PUFAs

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Among the pathways involved in the regulation of macrophage functions, the metabolism of unsaturated fatty acids is central. Indeed, unsaturated fatty acids act as precursors of bioactive molecules such as prostaglandins, leukotrienes, resolvins and related compounds. As components of phospholipids, they have a pivotal role in cell biology by regulating membrane fluidity and membrane-associated cellular processes. Finally, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are also endowed with ligand properties for numerous membrane or nuclear receptors. Although myeloid cells are dependent on the metabolic context for the uptake of essential FAs, recent studies showed that these cells autonomously handle the synthesis of n-3 and n-6 long chain PUFAs such as arachidonic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Moreover, targeting PUFA metabolism in macrophages influences pathological processes, including atherosclerosis, by modulating macrophage functions. Omics evidence also supports a role for macrophage PUFA metabolism in the development of cardiometabolic diseases in humans. Currently, there is a renewed interest in the role of n-3/n-6 PUFAs and their oxygenated derivatives in the onset of atherosclerosis and plaque rupture. Purified n-3 FA supplementation appears as a potential strategy in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases. In this context, the ability of immune cells to handle and to synthesize very long chain PUFA must absolutely be integrated and better understood.




Ménégaut, L., Jalil, A., Thomas, C., & Masson, D. (2019, December 1). Macrophage fatty acid metabolism and atherosclerosis: The rise of PUFAs. Atherosclerosis. Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

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