Fatty acids (FAs) have structural and functional diversity. FAs in the heart are closely associated with cardiac function, and their qualitative or quantitative abnormalities lead to the onset and progression of cardiac disease. FAs are important as an energy substrate for the heart, but when in excess, they exhibit cardio-lipotoxicity that causes cardiac dysfunction or heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. FAs also play a role as part of phospholipids that compose cell membranes, and the changes in mitochondrial phospholipid cardiolipin and the FA composition of plasma membrane phospholipids affect cardiomyocyte survival. In addition, FA metabolites exert a wide variety of bioactivities in the heart as lipid mediators. Recent advances in measurement using mass spectrometry have identified trace amounts of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)-derived bioactive metabolites associated with heart disease. n-3 PUFAs have a variety of cardioprotective effects and have been shown in clinical trials to be effective in cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure. This review outlines the contributions of FAs to cardiac function and pathogenesis of heart diseases from the perspective of three major roles and proposes therapeutic applications and new medical perspectives of FAs represented by n-3 PUFAs.
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