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Reilly, Nathalie A.; Lutgens, Esther; Kuiper, Johan; Heijmans, Bastiaan T. and Jukema, J. Wouter (2021): Effects of fatty acids on T cell function: role in atherosclerosis. In: Nature Reviews Cardiology, Vol. 18, No. 12: pp. 824-837

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Fatty acids affect the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, and accumulating evidence shows that fatty acids also modulate T cell functions and processes. This Review summarizes the effects of circulating fatty acids on the metabolism, activation, proliferation and polarization of T cells and how these changes influence the subsequent functions of T cells in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. T cells are among the most common cell types present in atherosclerotic plaques and are increasingly being recognized as a central mediator in atherosclerosis development and progression. At the same time, triglycerides and fatty acids have re-emerged as crucial risk factors for atherosclerosis. Triglycerides and fatty acids are important components of the milieu to which the T cell is exposed from the circulation to the plaque, and increasing evidence shows that fatty acids influence T cell function. In this Review, we discuss the effects of fatty acids on four components of the T cell response - metabolism, activation, proliferation and polarization - and the influence of these changes on the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. We also discuss how quiescent T cells can undergo a type of metabolic reprogramming induced by exposure to fatty acids in the circulation that influences the subsequent functions of T cells after activation, such as in atherosclerotic plaques.

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