Effect of dietary Fatty acids on human lipoprotein metabolism: a comprehensive update

Nutrients. 2015 Jun 2;7(6):4416-25. doi: 10.3390/nu7064416.


Dyslipidemia is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Dietary fatty-acid composition regulates lipids and lipoprotein metabolism and may confer CVD benefit. This review updates understanding of the effect of dietary fatty-acids on human lipoprotein metabolism. In elderly participants with hyperlipidemia, high n-3 polyunsaturated fatty-acids (PUFA) consumption diminished hepatic triglyceride-rich lipoprotein (TRL) secretion and enhanced TRL to low-density lipoprotein (LDL) conversion. n-3 PUFA also decreased TRL-apoB-48 concentration by decreasing TRL-apoB-48 secretion. High n-6 PUFA intake decreased very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations by up-regulating VLDL lipolysis and uptake. In a study of healthy subjects, the intake of saturated fatty-acids with increased palmitic acid at the sn-2 position was associated with decreased postprandial lipemia. Low medium-chain triglyceride may not appreciably alter TRL metabolism. Replacing carbohydrate with monounsaturated fatty-acids increased TRL catabolism. Trans-fatty-acid decreased LDL and enhanced high-density lipoprotein catabolism. Interactions between APOE genotype and n-3 PUFA in regulating lipid responses were also described. The major advances in understanding the effect of dietary fatty-acids on lipoprotein metabolism has centered on n-3 PUFA. This knowledge emphasizes the importance of regulating lipoprotein metabolism as a mode to improve plasma lipids and potentially CVD risk. Additional studies are required to better characterize the cardiometabolic effects of other dietary fatty-acids.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; dietary fatty acids; dyslipidemia; lipoprotein metabolism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apolipoproteins E / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, VLDL / blood
  • Dyslipidemias / blood
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, VLDL
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Triglycerides