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Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile due to very high cholesterol

A medical expert who has studied famous figures in Renaissance art believes that the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile was the result of very high cholesterol.

The facial expression – 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.

The Italian scientist says the model in the oil painting had a xanthelasma – a subcutaneous accumulation of cholesterol – in the hollow of her left eye and a fatty tissue tumour.

It suggests very high levels of cholesterol in the model, thought to be Lisa del Giocondo, a member of a Florence family who married a cloth and silk merchant.

Franco also claims to have identified a genetic bone tissue disorder, Marfan syndrome, in two other Renaissance figures: 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.

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