Effects of fatty acids on T cell function: role in atherosclerosis

Nathalie A. Reilly, Esther Lutgens, Johan Kuiper, Bastiaan T. Heijmans, J. Wouter Jukema

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)824-837
Number of pages14
JournalNature Reviews Cardiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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