Excess Linoleic Acid Increases Collagen I/III Ratio and "Stiffens" the Heart Muscle Following High Fat Diets

J Biol Chem. 2015 Sep 18;290(38):23371-84. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M115.682195. Epub 2015 Aug 3.


Controversy exists on the benefits versus harms of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-6 PUFA). Although n-6 PUFA demonstrates anti-atherosclerotic properties, survival following cardiac remodeling may be compromised. We hypothesized that n-6 PUFA like linoleic acid (LA) or other downstream PUFAs like γ-linolenic acid or arachidonic acid alter the transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ)-collagen axis in the heart. Excess dietary LA increased the collagen I/III ratio in the mouse myocardium, leading to cardiac "stiffening" characterized by impaired transmitral flow indicative of early diastolic dysfunction within 5 weeks. In vitro, LA under TGFβ1 stimulation increased collagen I and lysyl oxidase (LOX), the enzyme that cross-links soluble collagen resulting in deposited collagen. Overexpression of fatty acid desaturase 2 (fads2), which metabolizes LA to downstream PUFAs, reduced collagen deposits, LOX maturation, and activity with LA, whereas overexpressing fads1, unrelated to LA desaturation, did not. Furthermore, fads2 knockdown by RNAi elevated LOX activity and collagen deposits in fibroblasts with LA but not oleic acid, implying a buildup of LA for aggravating such pro-fibrotic effects. As direct incubation with γ-linolenic acid or arachidonic acid also attenuated collagen deposits and LOX activity, we concluded that LA itself, independent of other downstream PUFAs, promotes the pro-fibrotic effects of n-6 PUFA. Overall, these results attempt to reconcile opposing views of n-6 PUFA on the cardiovascular system and present evidence supporting a cardiac muscle-specific effect of n-6 PUFAs. Therefore, aggravation of the collagen I/III ratio and cardiac stiffening by excess n-6 PUFA represent a novel pathway of cardiac lipotoxicity caused by high n-6 PUFA diets.

Keywords: collagen; fatty acid metabolism; heart failure; lysyl oxidase; polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Collagen Type I / metabolism*
  • Collagen Type III / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / pharmacology
  • Linoleic Acid / adverse effects*
  • Linoleic Acid / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Protein-Lysine 6-Oxidase / metabolism
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / metabolism


  • Collagen Type I
  • Collagen Type III
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Tgfb1 protein, mouse
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Linoleic Acid
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase
  • Protein-Lysine 6-Oxidase