LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY. It is well established that an inflammation of the cells (endothelial) that line blood vessels is a precursor to atherosclerosis. Researchers at the University of Kentucky Medical Center now report that linoleic acid, but not oleic acid, induces inflammation in human endothelial cells. The researchers exposed endothelial cells from umbilical veins to linoleic, oleic, and linolenic acids. The concentrations used were similar to those that would be encountered in the blood of people consuming these fatty acids. The researchers observed that linoleic acid caused a strong activation of the genes responsible for initiating inflammation. Oleic acid, on the other hand, dampened the inflammatory response, and linolenic acid had only a moderate effect. They conclude that linoleic acid can induce profound inflammation in cultured human endothelial cells. Editor's Note: Most vegetable oils, including safflower, sunflower and corn oil are high in linoleic acid. Olive oil has a high oleic acid content and hardly any linoleic acid while flax oil is high in linolenic acid. Butter contains very little linoleic acid and hardly any linolenic acid.
Toborek, Michael, et al. Unsaturated fatty acids selectively induce an inflammatory environment in human endothelial cells. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 75, January 2002, pp. 119-25
Rutledge, John C. Links between food and vascular disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 75, January 2002, p. 4 (editorial)