Squalene in Virgin Olive Oil May Help Tissue Repair

Squalenes, a compound found in virgin olive oil, might help cicatrization and tissue repair according to a research study by the University of Jaén.

By Rosa Gonzalez-Lamas
Oct. 22, 2018 11:15 UTC

The role squalenes exert in the immunomod­u­la­tion of proin­flam­ma­tory macrophages sug­gests that this com­pound found in vir­gin olive oil might ben­e­fit tis­sue repair and the cica­triza­tion of wounds.

This is the main find­ing of a research study under­taken by Spain’s University of Jaén to iden­tify spe­cific com­po­nents of vir­gin olive oil that are respon­si­ble for its anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties. This is an ini­tial step to later ascer­tain whether they could be used to treat inflam­ma­tory dis­eases like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

The con­clu­sions of this study were detailed in the research arti­cle Squalene Stimulates a Key Innate Immune Cell to Foster Wound Healing and Tissue Repair,” pub­lished in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Squalene is the main minor com­pound of vir­gin olive oil, its main hydro­car­bon and the major com­po­nent of its non­saponifi­able frac­tion. It reacts against chem­i­cal, phys­i­cal, bac­te­r­ial, and exoge­nous stress sig­nals, pro­tect­ing the skin’s sur­face. The com­pound helps pre­vent skin dam­age and has anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties which are pre­sumed to be capa­ble of pre­vent­ing can­cer, skin dam­age, and ath­er­o­scle­rotic lesions.

Virgin olive oils have high con­cen­tra­tions of squa­lene.

The study explored the role of squalenes exert on the proin­flam­ma­tory responses of cer­tain macrophages and con­cluded these are a nat­ural prod­uct that might be ben­e­fi­cial at the last stage of wound clo­sures because of their immunomod­u­la­tion of macrophages. Macrophages are the main innate cells involved in repair­ing tis­sues and bring­ing inflam­ma­tion to an end.

Two kinds of macrophages are involved in wound cica­triza­tion: M1 and M2. M2 macrophages have anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties and are key for the defin­i­tive heal­ing of wounds. The inter­ac­tion of M1 and M2 macrophages takes the heal­ing process from infec­tion to recov­ery; with­out squalenes, cica­triza­tion will be defi­cient and tis­sue dam­age may occur.

According to the study, squalenes appear to act as a medi­a­tor in tis­sue remod­el­ing and repair by pro­mot­ing a switch from M1 into M2 macrophages, thereby recruit­ing immune cells and pro­duc­ing anti-inflam­ma­tory sig­nals.

The study was led by José Juan Gaforio, pro­fes­sor of Immunology at the University of Jaén. Researchers from the University’s Center for Advanced Studies in Olive Groves and Olive Oils, and the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the University of Navarra also par­tic­i­pated in the study.

A find­ing of the study was that squalene’s con­cen­tra­tion lev­els may have an influ­ence on how this com­pound behaves dur­ing the heal­ing process. The report rec­om­mends to fur­ther study the behav­ior of squalenes in dif­fer­ent con­cen­tra­tions to con­firm if ele­vated squa­lene con­cen­tra­tions might be adverse, rather than ben­e­fi­cial.

Recently, squalenes have been used in sev­eral appli­ca­tions, includ­ing chemo­pre­ven­tive in sev­eral tumors. Years ago, the University of Jaén also con­ducted another study that sug­gested squalenes might help pre­vent breast can­cer because they helped reduce oxida­tive dam­age upon epithe­lial cells.


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