Botanical Lipids

The Center for Botanical Lipids and Inflammatory Disease Prevention

Research indicates poor diets, including high concentrations of saturated and omega-6 (ω6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) but lacking omega-3 (ω3) PUFAs, can initiate and exacerbate underlying inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), metabolic syndrome, diabetes and asthma. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that ω3 PUFAs naturally found in fatty fish and fish oil reduce cardiovascular diseases; however, US consumption of fish oils is low due to the taste, smell, and fear of contaminants. This proposal postulates that botanical-based oil supplements offer a potential solution to several of these challenging problems. The Wake Forest Center for Botanical Lipids and Inflammatory Disease Prevention brings together investigators from four internationally-recognized lipid groups and a world-renowned human genomics center to examine the cellular and molecular mechanisms and clinical potential of botanical fatty acids currently available as dietary supplements with a focus on enhancing wellness and preventing disease. Center projects will examine the health effects of adding medium chain botanical fatty acids that bypass the rate limiting Δ6-desaturase step of PUFA biosynthesis in humans. A central hypothesis of this proposal is that this approach markedly enhances conversion of botanical PUFAs to long chain beneficial PUFAs. Projects 1 and 3 examine the mechanisms behind the pleiotropic effects of botanical PUFAs with regard to macrophage/monocyte activation, inflammatory states and eicosanoid generation related to atherosclerosis and asthmatic inflammation, respectively. Project 2 examines differences in PUFA biosynthesis between African Americans and age- and sex- matched Caucasians within both healthy and metabolic syndrome populations to better understand who may be most responsive to fatty acid-based botanical supplements. These interactive and synergistic studies have a strong, contemporary and translational scientific basis and should allow this team of scientist to identify additional targets of prevention and therapy, and permit further refinement of dietary supplementation to maximize its effects on human wellness.

Numerous lines of scientific evidence indicate that poor diets including the ingestion of unhealthy concentrations and ratios of short, medium and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have played a key role in the initiation and exacerbation of chronic inflammatory diseases including cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), metabolic syndrome, diabetes and asthma over the past 40 years. The central objective of The Wake Forest Center for Botanical Lipids and Inflammatory Disease Prevention is to test several key hypotheses thatwill fill significant knowledge gaps regarding how fatty acid-based botanical supplements or supplement combinations work to prevent human disease. This information can then be employed to determine the best use and refinement of supplements to maximize their effectiveness for human wellness.

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WF School of Medicine
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Winston-Salem, NC  27157
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Last Updated: 11-21-2014
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