`Study Reveals Insights Into the Impact of Olive Oil Fats on Essential Cell Structures - Olive Oil Times

Study Reveals Insights Into the Impact of Olive Oil Fats on Essential Cell Structures

By Daniel Dawson
Jun. 13, 2023 14:07 UTC

A new study pub­lished by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine has found evi­dence con­nect­ing the con­sump­tion of olive oil’s most preva­lent fat with longevity in worms.

Our inter­est came from aging,” lead researcher Katharina Papsdorf told Olive Oil Times. We want to under­stand what dri­ves aging and how can we reg­u­late aging.”

We found that oleic acid con­sump­tion increases the lipid droplets. When we feed the worm oleic acid, the lipid oxi­da­tion is reduced. And gen­er­ally, lipid oxi­da­tion is bad for lifes­pan and increases with age.- Katharina Papsdorf, genet­ics pro­fes­sor, Stanford University

Since it is well-known that diets rich in olive oil and nuts, such as the Mediterranean diet, are asso­ci­ated with pop­u­la­tions that live longer, Papsdorf wanted to study the cel­lu­lar mech­a­nisms behind this con­nec­tion to see the link between the type of fat and longevity.

The study built on pre­vi­ous research that found that worms with more monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids (either acquired through self-pro­duc­tion or diet) lived longer than worms with­out, with the strongest effect seen with oleic acid. About 70 per­cent of the total fat con­tent of olive oil is com­prised of oleic acid.

See Also:Olive Oil Research News

Papsdorf and the team of genet­ics researchers found that worms fed a diet rich in oleic acid lived 33 per­cent longer than worms fed a stan­dard diet.

They also observed that oleic acid con­sump­tion increased the num­ber of per­ox­i­somes and lipid droplets in the intes­tine of the worms. The quan­tity of both organelles – the organs’ of a cell – is higher in younger ani­mals and nat­u­rally decreases over time.

Lipid droplets, which store fat, proved to be a pre­dic­tive fac­tor of longevity. The droplets pro­tect from dam­age due to lipid oxi­da­tion, which can lead to cell death.

Oleic acid

Oleic acid is a promi­nent monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acid found abun­dantly in olive oil, mak­ing it a key com­po­nent of its nutri­tional pro­file. Known for its poten­tial health ben­e­fits, oleic acid has been asso­ci­ated with pro­mot­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar health by low­er­ing LDL cho­les­terol lev­els and reduc­ing inflam­ma­tion in the body. Its pres­ence in olive oil con­tributes to the oil’s rep­u­ta­tion as a healthy choice, par­tic­u­larly in the con­text of the Mediterranean diet.

However, the rela­tion­ship between longevity and per­ox­i­somes, which have a range of func­tions related to lipid syn­the­sis and degra­da­tion and the detox­i­fi­ca­tion of reac­tive oxy­gen species, remains largely unknown.

We found that oleic acid con­sump­tion increases lipid droplet num­bers,” Papsdorf said. When we feed the worm oleic acid, lipid oxi­da­tion is reduced. And gen­er­ally, lipid oxi­da­tion is bad for lifes­pan and increases with age.”

She added that the num­ber of lipid droplets in indi­vid­ual worms allowed researchers to pre­dict the animal’s lifes­pan; worms with more lipid droplets lived longer than those with fewer.

For the study, Papsdorf used a pop­u­la­tion of genet­i­cally-iden­ti­cal Caenorhabditis ele­gan, a species of round­worm with a short lifes­pan, that lived on the same plate and in the same con­trolled envi­ron­ment.

She said the worms allowed the researchers to track mol­e­c­u­lar changes that occurred with the change in diet to deter­mine how these changes affected lifes­pan.

At two points in their lives, I sep­a­rated them into pop­u­la­tions of high and low lipid droplet num­bers,” Papsdorf said. I saw that the ones that had more lipid droplets lived sig­nif­i­cantly longer. So there’s some­thing ben­e­fi­cial to hav­ing more fat stor­age in the intes­tine.”

However, she added that the rea­sons why the increased num­ber of lipid droplets resulted in longer lifes­pans required fur­ther study. Papsdorf hypoth­e­sized that they could serve as energy reser­voirs or be ben­e­fi­cial for cap­tur­ing harm­ful mol­e­cules.

These lat­est find­ings add fur­ther nuance to under­stand­ing how fatty acids relate to health. Previous research shows that lipid droplets can be harm­ful, depend­ing on where they develop.

For exam­ple, lipid droplet accu­mu­la­tion in the brain was asso­ci­ated with Alzheimer’s dis­ease, while accu­mu­la­tion in mus­cle tis­sue also was asso­ci­ated with obe­sity.

There might be some­thing about the tis­sue or the organ in which the lipid droplets are located which makes them ben­e­fi­cial in some cases and detri­men­tal in oth­ers, but we don’t know why yet,” Papsdorf said.

Anne Brunet, a pro­fes­sor of genet­ics at Stanford University Medical School and senior author of the study, told the uni­ver­sity news cen­ter that there is still a lot of research to be done to learn whether and how these find­ings apply to humans.”


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