Mediterranean diet and low-grade subclinical inflammation: the Moli-sani study

Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2015;15(1):18-24. doi: 10.2174/1871530314666141020112146.


Low-grade chronic inflammation is an underlying pathophysiological mechanism linking risk factors and/or metabolic disorders to increased risk of chronic degenerative disease. A meat-based pattern, as the Western type diet, is positively linked to higher levels of some important biomarkers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 and fibrinogen. Conversely, a Mediterranean-like eating behavior is associated with lower degree of these biomarkers thus suggesting an anti-inflammatory action of its main food components. This chapter goes through the most important investigations addressing the relationship between dietary habits and subclinical inflammation. Attention was focussed on the findings from the Moli-sani study: this is a large prospective cohort study that recruited 24,325 men and women from the general population of the Molise Region, a Southern Italian area, with the aim of investigating genetic and environmental risk/protection factors for cardiovascular and tumor disease. For the first time, the Moli-sani study carefully investigated the Mediterranean diet as an environmental determinant of both platelet and white blood cell counts, starting from the hypothesis that a diet rich in healthy compounds could favorably influence the production and/or the clearance of these two cellular biomarkers of lowgrade inflammation. Additionally, evidence from this large Italian cohort showed that a Mediterranean-like diet was closely associated with relatively lower values of glucose, lipids, CRP, blood pressure and 10-year cardiovascular risk, while the consumption of healthy foods with high rather than low content in antioxidant vitamins and phytochemicals was associated with lower blood pressure and CRP plasma levels at least in men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / epidemiology
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism
  • Metabolic Diseases / prevention & control
  • Prospective Studies