Articles | Volume 44, issue 1
10 Oct 2001
 | 10 Oct 2001

Physiologie effects of individual fatty acids in animal and human body, with particular attention to coronary heart disease risk modulation

M. Pfeuffer

Abstract. Dietary fatty acids have a wide spectrum of functions in the body. They may all serve as energy source, but polyunsaturated fatty acids are preferably incorporated into cell membranes and affect membrane composition and functionality. Some fatty acids may change gene transcription, and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, released from cell membranes, serve as precursors of eicosanoid synthesis. Fatty acids affect lipid and lipoprotein levels. Lipoproteins may be modified in several ways, e.g. become oxidized or glycated, which in turn affects their metabolic fate. Fatty acids affect endothelial function via inflammatory, oxidative and haemostatic processes. This shows that fatty acids exert regulatory functions in many ways beyond plasma cholesterol level changes. Effects of individual fatty acids are not necessarily one-directional, i.e. there may be both negative and positive aspects to them. Omega3 polyunsatureated fatty acids have a particularly wide spectrum of favourable effects.