Author(s): Das UN
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Abstract I investigated whether metabolism of essential fatty acids and the concentrations of their long-chain metabolites (long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids [LCPUFAs]) are altered in fetal or perinatal growth retardation, maternal hypercholesterolemia, low-grade systemic inflammation, insulin resistance, and atherosclerosis, conditions that predispose to the development of coronary heart disease (CHD).I critically reviewed the literature pertaining to the metabolism of essential fatty acids in CHD and conditions that predispose to it.LCPUFAs enhance endothelial nitric oxide synthesis, suppress the production of the proinflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6, attenuate insulin resistance, and have antiatherosclerotic properties. Low-birthweight infants have decreased concentrations of LCPUFAs, especially arachidonic acid. Neonatal arachidonic acid status is related to intrauterine growth, and LCPUFAs improve fetal and postnatal growth. LCPUFAs are useful in the management of hyperlipidemia, inhibit 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase activity, and may mediate the beneficial actions of statins. Plasma concentrations of various LCPUFAs are low in diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and CHD and in populations at high risk of CHD. Breast milk is rich in LCPUFAs, and this may explain why and how adequate (6 mo to 1 y) breast feeding protects against the development of obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, and CHD.LCPUFAs are essential for the growth and development of the fetus and infant. LCPUFAs can prevent various conditions that predispose to the development of CHD. The low incidence of CHD seen in adequately breast-fed infants can be linked to the LCPUFA content of breast milk. Based on this evidence, I suggest that provision of LCPUFAs during critical periods of growth, especially from the second trimester of pregnancy to age 5 y, prevents CHD in adult life.
This article was published in Nutrition
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism