Virgin olive oil (VOO) is considered to be one of the main components responsible for the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, particularly against atherosclerosis where peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMNCs) play a crucial role in atherosclerosis development and progression. The objective of this article was to identify the PBMNC genes that respond to VOO consumption in order to ascertain the molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial action of VOO in the prevention of atherosclerosis. Gene expression profiles of PBMNCs from healthy individuals were examined in pooled RNA samples by microarrays after 3 weeks of moderate and regular consumption of VOO, as the main fat source in a diet controlled for antioxidant content. Gene expression was verified by qPCR. The response to VOO consumption was confirmed for individual samples (n = 10) by qPCR for 10 upregulated genes (ADAM17, ALDH1A1, BIRC1, ERCC5, LIAS, OGT, PPARBP, TNFSF10, USP48, and XRCC5). Their putative role in the molecular mechanisms involved in atherosclerosis development and progression is discussed, focusing on a possible relation with VOO consumption. Our data support the hypothesis that 3 weeks of nutritional intervention with VOO supplementation, at doses common in the Mediterranean diet, can alter the expression of genes related to atherosclerosis development and progression.
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