The primary function of lipoproteins is to transport lipids in the blood.  While there are several classes of lipoproteins, some are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.  Apolipoprotein CIII is an important regulator of lipoprotein metabolism.  Apolipoprotein CIII can impede the update of certain lipoproteins by the tissues causing a rise in plasma triglycerides.  Studies also show that apolipoprotein CIII is involved in the formation of atherosclerotic lesions and subsequent cardiovascular disease and venous thrombosis. 

Dietary saturated fatty acids are usually thought to be atherogenic, which can have negative effects on human health. A recent study by Oliviero Olivieri (University of Verona) and colleagues provides new information between myristic acid, a saturated fatty acid that is mainly present in dairy fats and coconut oil and circulating concentrations of apolipoprotein CIII. Published in The Journal of Nutrition, study results suggest that limiting dietary myristic acid may be beneficial for those affected by elevated levels of atherogenic triglycerides in blood. 

Plasma lipid, apolipoprotein CIII, and fatty acid concentrations were measured in blood samples from 1370 subjects with or without coronary artery disease.  Among all the fatty acids analyzed, myristic acid showed the most robust correlations with both triglycerides and apolipoprotein CIII. Blood concentrations of triglycerides and apolipoprotein CIII increased progressively with increasing concentrations of myristic acid, independent of coronary artery disease and sex. 

The research team concluded that myristic acid is a promoter of apolipoprotein CIII, but that additional investigation is needed to better clarify the mechanisms. If confirmed and validated by further studies, limiting myristic acid-rich foods may offer a novel dietary approach in the treatment of elevated triglycerides and/or apolipoprotein CIII concentrations.  A corresponding editorial by Maria Luz Fernandez (University of Connecticut) states that this elegant study is a reason for excitement and demonstrates for the first time the interrelationship of myristic acid and apolipoprotein CIII and their role in cardiovascular risk.

References Ikuvueru Im Speziali G, Castagna A, Pattini P, Udali S, Pizzolo F, Liesinger L, Gindlhuber J, Tomin T, Schittmayer M, Birner-Gruenberger R, Cecconi D, Girelli D, Friso S, Martinelli N. The Positive Association between Plasma Myristic Acid and ApoCIII Concentrations in Cardiovascular Disease Patients Is Supported by the Effects of Myristic Acid in HepG2 Cells. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 150, Issue 10, October 2020, Pages 2707–2715,

Fernandez ML D. The Positive Association of Plasma Myristic Acid and Apolipoprotein CIII Concentrations. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 150, Issue 10, October 2020, Pages 2613–2614,

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