“High levels of saturated fat in the blood could make an individual more prone to inflammation and tissue damage, a new study suggests.” (Mendoza, 2015)
Eating saturated fat with gay abandon has been called into question once again. New research states that excessive ingestion of saturated fat is not good for us.
“Scientists from Imperial College London studied mice that have an unusually high level of saturated fat circulating in their blood. The research, published 3 September 2015 in Cell Reports shows that the presence of saturated fats resulted in monocytes – a type of white blood cell (Any of various large white blood cells that are formed in the bone marrow, circulate in the blood, and destroy pathogenic bacteria by phagocytosis. Monocytes develop into macrophages in various body tissues.) – migrating into the tissues of vital organs.” (Mendoza, 2015)
The researchers think that the migrating monocytes could increase tissue damage due to the fact they may exacerbate ongoing underlying inflammation, this aspect is still under study.
Lead researcher Dr. Kevin Woollard said: “The mice we studied were treated with a drug that caused them to accumulate extremely high levels of fat in their blood. Although it is unusual, humans do sometimes have measurements approaching those levels, either from an inherited condition or through eating fatty foods.”
“Modern lifestyles seem to go hand-in-hand with high levels of fat in the blood. This fat comes from the food and drinks that we consume; for example, you’d be surprised how much saturated fat a latte contains, and some people drink several through the course of the day.”
“We think that maintaining a relatively high concentration of saturated fats for example by constantly snacking on cakes, biscuits, and pastries could be causing monocytes to migrate out of the blood and into surrounding tissues.”
“Blood is very finely balanced, and the exchange of cells and other substances with the surrounding tissue is part of maintaining that balance.” (Mendoza, 2015)
The team, led by Dr. Woollard and Professor Marina Botto from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, has noticed that as the organs absorb fats, most of the relocated monocytes are turned into another type of immune cell call the macrophage. Some of the cells located within the tissues take in fat and are turned into foam cells (Foam cells are fat-laden macrophages seen in atherosclerosis. They are an indication of plaque build-up or atherosclerosis.) These foam cells and macrophages spur on the production of a signaling molecule called CCL 4, which attracts more monocytes into the tissue. This closed loop continues increasing output of foam cells in macrophages as long as the level of saturated fat is elevated.
These mechanisms of action “may have evolved to remove fats from the blood in order to maintain a healthy balance; further research is required to confirm this.” (Mendoza, 2015)
A key element of these observations, however, is that the monocytes involved in this process are of one very specific type.
Dr. Woollard said, “It’s really exciting to see that the monocytes that migrate into tissues are all of one type and that means we actually may be able to develop drugs that change this behavior.”
Individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease or obese individuals could be treated with a drug that targets these particular monocytes preventing the possible future damage caused by fatty buildup in blood vessels in organs.
“Interestingly, people with certain immune disorders affecting monocytes, including some inflammatory and autoimmune diseases like lupus, can have unexpectedly high levels of saturated fats in their blood and also are more likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes at a younger age.”
“The next stages of this research will be to study groups of patients with inflammatory diseases, and to look at the direct effects of saturated foods on monocyte function.” (Mendoza, 2015)
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Mendoza, N. W. (2015, September 03). Health risks of saturated fats aggravated by immune response. Retrieved September 06, 2015, from Imperial College London News: http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_3-9-2015-17-8-27
Saja et al (2015), “Triglyceride-Rich Lipoproteins Modulate the Distribution and Extravasation of Ly6C/Gr1low Monocytes,” Cell Reports, doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2015.08.020
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