Inflammatory response: The effect of linoleic acid is dependent on genes

Inflammatory response: The effect of linoleic acid is dependent on genes
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A new study from the University of Eastern Finland has shown that the effects of linoleic acid on inflammatory response in the body is largely dependent on genes.

Linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, has a different inflammatory response in people with different gene variations, specifically of the FADS1 gene. The new study is the first time that these associations have been studied in humans.

Linoleic acid

The FADS1 gene regulates the body’s fatty acid metabolism and glucose metabolism. A person’s diet has a major impact on the concentration of different fatty acids in the body. Linoleic acid is found in plant-based oils, nuts, and seeds. It is the most common polyunsaturated omega 6 fatty acid.

A high intake and high levels of the acid in a person’s blood has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

However, the metabolites of the acid can mediate inflammation. So a high intake of linoleic acid is seen as a plausible contributor to low-grade inflammatory state.

The new study states that these contradictory observations made be explained by a person’s genes.

The effects on inflammatory response

The study assessed whether point mutations in rs174550 of the FADS1 gene modify the effects of the acid on serum fatty acid composition and on fasting glucose, insulin and CRP levels.

The study found that:

  • The effects of the acid are largely dependent on which variant of the FADS1 gene a person carries;
  • This has an effect on how effectively a linoleic acid supplement can lower fasting glucose levels;
  • An increased intake of linoleic acid can change a person’s CRP levels, depending on the gene variant; and
  • The gene variant has an effect on the levels of inflammation mediators created from the metabolites of linoleic acid and other omega 6 fatty acids.

Should fatty acid intake be tailored to a person’s genes?

Postdoctoral Researcher Maria Lankinen, from the University of Eastern Finland, suggests that the findings warrant speculation on whether the recommended linoleic acid, and potentially other fatty acids, should be tailored to a person’s genes. She said: “However, further research is needed before we can make any recommendations based on genes.”

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