Dietary Palmitoleic Acid Attenuates Atherosclerosis Progression and Hyperlipidemia in Low-Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Deficient Mice

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2019 Jun;63(12):e1900120. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201900120. Epub 2019 Apr 10.


Scope: Palmitoleic acid (palmitoleate; C16:1 n-7), an omega-7 monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) found in plants and marine sources, has been shown to favorably modulate lipid and glucose metabolism. However, its impact on atherosclerosis has not been examined in detail.

Methods and results: LDL receptor knock out (LDLR-KO) mice are fed a Western diet supplemented with 5% (w/w) palmitoleate concentrate, oleic-rich olive oil, or none (control) for 12 weeks. Dietary palmitoleate increases hepatic C16:1 levels, improves plasma and hepatic lipid/lipoprotein profiles (≈40% decrease in triglycerides), and reduces the atherosclerotic plaque area by ≈45% compared with control or olive oil group (p < 0.05). These favorable changes are accompanied by the downregulation of key genes, such as Srebp1c, Scd1, Il-1β, and Tnfα. ApoB-depleted plasma from mice fed palmitoleate has increased cholesterol efflux capacity by 20% from ABCA1-expressing cells (p < 0.05). A beneficial effect of palmitoleate on glucose metabolism (54% decreased in HOMA-IR, p < 0.05) is also observed.

Conclusions: Dietary-supplemented palmitoleate reduces atherosclerosis development in LDLR-KO mice, and is associated with improvement of lipid and glucose metabolism and favorable changes in regulatory genes involved in lipogenesis and inflammation. These findings imply the potential role of dietary palmitoleate in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and diet-induced metabolic disorders.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; hyperlipidemia; inflammation; insulin resistance; palmitoleate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control*
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hyperlipidemias / prevention & control*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Receptors, LDL / physiology*


  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Receptors, LDL
  • palmitoleic acid
  • Cholesterol
  • Glucose