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

J Surg Res. 2012 Sep;177(1):e35-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2012.04.010. Epub 2012 Apr 27.


Background: 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).

Design: 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 24h. Adhesion of monocytes to the endothelial monolayer was performed. For gene expression, reverse transcription, followed by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction, was performed.

Results: 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 24h. The adhesion of monocytes to the endothelial monolayer was decreased with n-3 FAs at 24h. 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.

Conclusions: 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arachidonic Acid / pharmacology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases