Low grade inflammation is characterized by raised concentrations of inflammatory markers in the absence of any overt symptoms and is recognized as a risk factor for a number of chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Many studies suggest that low grade inflammation is mitigated by health promoting behaviours such as healthy eating patterns, physical activity, body weight maintenance and tobacco cessation. To date, large scale studies were mainly focused on circulating markers and little evidence is available on cellular biomarkers. The MOLI-SANI study is a prospective cohort study that has recruited 24 325 men and women aged ≥35 years from the general population of the Molise Region, a Southern Italian area, with the purpose of investigating genetic and environmental risk/protection factors for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease and cancer. Within this cohort, a composite score of low grade inflammation based on the use of plasmatic (C-reactive protein) and cellular (leukocyte and platelet counts and granulocyte : lymphocyte ratio) biomarkers has been proposed and validated. This score accounts for all possible synergistic effects of such inflammatory markers, thus overcoming any potential bias linked to the multi-collinearity of these variables. Of notice, the MOLI-SANI study was the first to address the relationship between the traditional Mediterranean diet and platelet and leucocyte counts as emerging cellular biomarkers of low grade inflammation. The present review paper will discuss the main findings derived from the MOLI-SANI study on the association of low grade inflammation with a Mediterranean eating pattern, with a particular emphasis on the associated dietary polyphenols.
Keywords: Mediterranean diet; dietary habits; low grade inflammation; polyphenols.
© 2016 The British Pharmacological Society.