Monocytes are a major population of circulating immune cells that play a crucial role in producing pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body. The actions of monocytes are known to be influenced by the combinations and concentrations of certain fatty acids (FAs) in blood and dietary fats. However, systemic comparisons of the effects of FAs on cytokine secretion by monocytes have not be performed. In this study, we compared how six saturated FAs (SFAs), two monounsaturated FAs (MUFAs), and seven polyunsaturated FAs (PUFAs) modulate human THP-1 monocyte secretion of TNF, IL-1β, and IL-6 in the absence or presence of lipopolysaccharide. SFAs generally stimulated resting THP-1 cells to secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines, with stearic acid being the most potent species. In contrast, MUFAs and PUFAs inhibited lipopolysaccharide-induced secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Interestingly, the inhibitory potentials of MUFAs and PUFAs followed U-shaped (TNF and IL-1β) or inverted U-shaped (IL-6) dose–response curves. Among the MUFAs and PUFAs that were analyzed, docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6 n-3) exhibited the largest number of double bonds and was found to be the most potent anti-inflammatory compound. Together, our findings reveal that the chemical compositions and concentrations of dietary FAs are key factors in the intricate regulation of monocyte-mediated inflammation.
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