Fatty acids (FAs) have been shown to alter leucocyte function and thus to modulate inflammatory and immune responses. In this review, the effects of FAs on several aspects of lymphocyte, neutrophil and macrophage function are discussed. The mechanisms by which FAs modulate the production of lipid mediators, activity of intracellular signalling pathways, activity of lipid-raft-associated proteins, binding to TLRs (Toll-like receptors), control of gene expression, activation of transcription factors, induction of cell death and production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species are described in this review. The rationale for the use of specific FAs to treat patients with impaired immune function is explained. Substantial improvement in the therapeutic usage of FAs or FA derivatives may be possible based on an improvement in the understanding of the precise molecular mechanisms of action with respect to the different leucocyte types and outcome with respect to the inflammatory responses.

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