Olive oil and immune system functions: potential involvement in immunonutrition
Keywords:Olive oil, Immune system, Lymphocytes, Cytokines, Autoimmune diseases, Infection, Immune resistance
Olive oil plays a crucial role as a main component of the Mediterranean diet, which has shown important benefits for the human health. According to the current knowledge, the administration of diets containing olive oil exerts some beneficial effects on the immune system functions due likely to the action of oleic acid rather than other substances contained in this fat. In the last few years, epidemiological, clinical and experimental studies have evidenced the potential of certain dietary lipids (containing polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fatty acids) as modulators of immune system functions due to their ability to suppress several functions of immune system in both humans and animals. As a result, these fats have been applied in the reduction of symptoms from diseases characterized by an overactivation of the immune system (autoimmune diseases) or in the reduction of cancer risk. Here, we review several relevant experimental and clinical data associated with the beneficial effects of olive oil upon the health, the mechanisms of action and the immune function susceptible of being be altered by the administration of dietary lipids and particularly of olive oil. In addition, we will also discuss the detrimental effects on the immune system functions caused by the administration of certain dietary lipids attributed mainly to a reduction of host natural resistance against infectious microorganisms as well as the involvement of olive oil diets in the regulation of immune resistance.
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