Endothelial Function Atherosclerosis and Cardiovascular Disease

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Differences in n-6 fatty acid intake have the potential to influence several chronic diseases and disorders. This article will focus on the effects of n-6 fatty acids on cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis.

The vascular endothelium is the most important organ controlling vascular function and consists of a single layer of epithelial cells lining blood vessels. Its primary function is to regulate vascular tone, but it plays a critical role in modulating coagulation and fibrinolysis, inflammation, smooth muscle cell proliferation, and macrophage function. Many of these functions are regulated through the release of various mediators including eicosanoids. There is multiple and close interaction of the endothelial cells with circulating cells, smooth muscle cells, and macrophages. There is also evidence that endothelial dysfunction precedes clinically apparent atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease involving multiple cellular and molecular responses that lead to an alteration in vascular function and structure, and the development and progression of cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis is characterized by degenerative changes, deposition of cholesterol, proliferation of smooth muscle cells, involvement of a range of circulating proinflamma-tory cell types, and fibrosis. Resulting atheromatous plaques cause narrowing of arteries and increase the likelihood of thrombosis and occlusion. When this process occurs in the coronary arteries, the outcome is myocardial infarction and with possible death.

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