Association for Academic Surgery| Volume 177, ISSUE 1, e35-e43, September 2012

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Effects of fatty acids on endothelial cells: inflammation and monocyte adhesion

  • S. Marlene Grenon
    Corresponding author. Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, San Francisco Surgical Services, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of California, Mail Code 112G, 4150 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94121. Tel.: +1 415 221 4810; fax: +1 415 750 6667.
    Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, California

    Hughes-Fulford Laboratory, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California

    Department of Surgery, Veterans Affair Medical Center, San Francisco, California
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  • Jesus Aguado-Zuniga
    Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, California

    Hughes-Fulford Laboratory, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California
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  • Jason P. Hatton
    Hughes-Fulford Laboratory, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California
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  • Christopher D. Owens
    Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, California

    Department of Surgery, Veterans Affair Medical Center, San Francisco, California
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  • Michael S. Conte
    Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, California
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  • Millie Hughes-Fulford
    Hughes-Fulford Laboratory, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California

    Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California
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Published:April 30, 2012DOI:



      Diet is known to have an important impact on cardiovascular health. n-3 Fatty acids (FAs), found in high quantity in fish oil, have demonstrated beneficial effects in patients with coronary artery disease. The role of n-6 FAs remains more controversial. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of arachidonic acid (AA), an n-6 FA, and eicosapentanoic acid (EPA), an n-3 FA, on the interaction between monocytes and endothelial cells (ECs).


      We used a cellular model of ECs (EA.hy.926) and monocytes (human leukemic myelomonocytic U937). Confluent ECs were treated with AA or EPA, in the presence of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) or vehicle alone for either 4 or 24 h. Adhesion of monocytes to the endothelial monolayer was performed. For gene expression, reverse transcription, followed by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction, was performed.


      There was a significant increase in adhesion of monocytes to the endothelial monolayer in the presence of n-6 FAs, both in the presence and in the absence of TNF-α at 4 and 24 h. The adhesion of monocytes to the endothelial monolayer was decreased with n-3 FAs at 24 h. Intercellular adhesion molecule 1, vascular cell adhesion molecule 1, E-Selectin, Interleukin 6, and TNF-α were significantly increased in ECs treated with n-6 FAs.


      We conclude that AA increases inflammation and enhances the ability of ECs to bind monocytes in vitro. EPA leads to a decrease in the ability of EA.hy.926 to bind monocytes, although the effect appears more modest. Taken together, these data indicate that the n-6 FA AA could potentiate inflammation and early events of atherosclerosis.


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