Update on Anti-Inflammatory Molecular Mechanisms Induced by Oleic Acid

Nutrients. 2023 Jan 1;15(1):224. doi: 10.3390/nu15010224.


In 2010, the Mediterranean diet was recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Olive oil is the most characteristic food of this diet due to its high nutraceutical value. The positive effects of olive oil have often been attributed to its minor components; however, its oleic acid (OA) content (70-80%) is responsible for its many health properties. OA is an effective biomolecule, although the mechanism by which OA mediates beneficial physiological effects is not fully understood. OA influences cell membrane fluidity, receptors, intracellular signaling pathways, and gene expression. OA may directly regulate both the synthesis and activities of antioxidant enzymes. The anti-inflammatory effect may be related to the inhibition of proinflammatory cytokines and the activation of anti-inflammatory ones. The best-characterized mechanism highlights OA as a natural activator of sirtuin 1 (SIRT1). Oleoylethanolamide (OEA), derived from OA, is an endogenous ligand of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) nuclear receptor. OEA regulates dietary fat intake and energy homeostasis and has therefore been suggested to be a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of obesity. OEA has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. The beneficial effects of olive oil may be related to the actions of OEA. New evidence suggests that oleic acid may influence epigenetic mechanisms, opening a new avenue in the exploration of therapies based on these mechanisms. OA can exert beneficial anti-inflammatory effects by regulating microRNA expression. In this review, we examine the cellular reactions and intracellular processes triggered by OA in T cells, macrophages, and neutrophils in order to better understand the immune modulation exerted by OA.

Keywords: T cells; macrophages; neutrophils; oleic acid; oleoylethanolamide.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Oleic Acid* / pharmacology
  • Oleic Acid* / therapeutic use
  • Oleic Acids / pharmacology
  • Olive Oil / pharmacology


  • Oleic Acid
  • Olive Oil
  • Oleic Acids
  • oleoyl ethanolamine
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents