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Mona Lisa suffered sky-high cholesterol: Report

world Updated: Jan 07, 2010 00:17 IST

How many times have you marvelled at the intriguing smile of the Mona Lisa?? Well... it might as well be the result of very high levels of cholesterol in her system!

According to a report on Telegraph website, Mona Lisa's face, rounded off with a mysterious smile - one of the main reasons why the 16th century painting is among the most famous works of art in the world – shows signs of a build up of fatty acids around the eyes of the subject , according to Vito Franco of the University of Palermo, a medical expert who has studied famous figures in Renaissance art.

The model in the oil painting might have suffered from xanthelasma leading to a subcutaneous accumulation of cholesterol in the hollow of her left eye and a fatty tissue tumour, says the Telegraph UK website.

This means that the model, identified as Lisa del Giocondo, a member of a Florence family who married a cloth and silk merchant, possessed high cholesterol in her system, the report says.

The report also says that Franco's studies also led him to identify a genetic bone tissue disorder, Marfan syndrome, in two other Renaissance figures.

The scientist claims that the subject for Botticelli's Portrait of a Youth, which hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and the subject for Parmigianino’s Madonna with Long Neck suffered from the bone disorder.

Franco told the Italian newspaper, La Stampsa that the people depicted in art tell us about their vulnerable humanity, independently of the awareness of the artist.

According to him, Michelangelo’s appearance in the foreground of Raphael's The School of Athens suggests he suffered from excessive amounts of uric acid, common in those afflicted by renal calculosis.

This may have been because the artist had been living off nothing but bread and wine while working on the Sistine Chapel, Franco said.