Int J Mol Sci, 2023, Mar 24;24(7):6110. doi: 10.3390/ijms24076110

The Role of α-Linolenic Acid and Its Oxylipins in Human Cardiovascular Diseases

Cambiaggi L Chakravarty A Noureddine N Hersberger M

α-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential C-18 n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), which can be elongated to longer n-3 PUFAs, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These long-chain n-3 PUFAs have anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution effects either directly or through their oxylipin metabolites. However, there is evidence that the conversion of ALA to the long-chain PUFAs is limited. On the other hand, there is evidence in humans that supplementation of ALA in the diet is associated with an improved lipid profile, a reduction in the inflammatory biomarker C-reactive protein (CRP) and a reduction in cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and all-cause mortality. Studies investigating the cellular mechanism for these beneficial effects showed that ALA is metabolized to oxylipins through the Lipoxygenase (LOX), the Cyclooxygenase (COX) and the Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) pathways, leading to hydroperoxy-, epoxy-, mono- and dihydroxylated oxylipins. In several mouse and cell models, it has been shown that ALA and some of its oxylipins, including 9- and 13-hydroxy-octadecatrienoic acids (9-HOTrE and 13-HOTrE), have immunomodulating effects. Taken together, the current literature suggests a beneficial role for diets rich in ALA in human CVDs, however, it is not always clear whether the described effects are attributable to ALA, its oxylipins or other substances present in the supplemented diets.

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