Dietary fat may affect immune response

Nov. 30, 2006 at 5:47 PM
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SYDNEY, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The link between dietary fat consumption and inflammation could be one of the critical links between metabolism and immune response, says an Australian study.

The intake of fats has changed dramatically over the last 30 years, and at the same time there has been an increase in inflammatory diseases in the Western world -- especially asthma, arteriosclerosis and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, according to Charles Mackay, director of the Garvan Institute's immunology program in Sydney.

"We have shown that a subset of white blood cells, called dendritic cells, which initiate immune responses, rely on the fatty acid binding molecule aP2 for their function," said Mackay. "It is possible that different fatty acids or their total levels will affect aP2 function in dendritic cells, and hence affect immune responses."

We know that dietary changes can improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and we believe that a "diet hypothesis" may account for the dramatic changes in inflammatory diseases seen in the Western world over the past 30 years, said Mackay.

Over-activation of dendritic cells can trigger inflammatory diseases. Fatty acid binding molecules, such as aP2, have already been identified as promising targets for the treatment of metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and arteriosclerosis, according to Mackay.

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