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Red blood cell fatty acids and biomarkers of inflammation: A cross-sectional study in a community-based cohort

  • Author Footnotes
    1 First authors.
    João D. Fontes
    Footnotes
    1 First authors.
    Affiliations
    National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's and Boston University's Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, MA, USA

    Department of Cardiology and Preventive Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

    Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 First authors.
    Faisal Rahman
    Footnotes
    1 First authors.
    Affiliations
    Boston University Medical Center, Boston, MA 02118, USA
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  • Sean Lacey
    Affiliations
    National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's and Boston University's Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, MA, USA
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  • Martin G. Larson
    Affiliations
    National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's and Boston University's Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, MA, USA

    Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA

    Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Ramachandran S. Vasan
    Affiliations
    National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's and Boston University's Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, MA, USA

    Department of Cardiology and Preventive Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

    Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

    Epidemiology Department, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Emelia J. Benjamin
    Affiliations
    National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's and Boston University's Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, MA, USA

    Department of Cardiology and Preventive Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

    Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

    Epidemiology Department, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
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  • William S. Harris
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author.
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine, Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota, and OmegaQuant Analytics, LLC, 5009 W. 12th St, Ste 8, Sioux Falls, SD 57106, USA
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  • Sander J. Robins
    Affiliations
    National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's and Boston University's Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, MA, USA

    Department of Cardiology and Preventive Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

    Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 First authors.

      Highlights

      • RBC omega-3 FAs were compared with 10 inflammatory biomarkers in 2724 subjects.
      • RBC FA levels are less affected by daily variations in intake than plasma FA levels.
      • 8 out of 10 biomarkers were inversely associated with omega-3 levels.
      • These findings suggest that omega-3 FA may have anti-inflammatory properties.

      Abstract

      Introduction

      Inflammation and inflammatory biomarkers have emerged as integral components and predictors of incident cardiovascular (CV) disease. Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (EPA and DHA) have anti-inflammatory properties, and have been variably associated with lower blood pressure, favorable blood lipid changes, and reduced CV events.

      Methods and results

      We examined the cross-sectional association of red blood cell (RBC) fatty acids, representative of body membrane fatty acid composition, with 10 biomarkers active in multiple inflammatory pathways in 2724 participants (mean age 66 ± 9 years, 54% women, 8% minorities) from the Framingham Offspring and minority Omni Cohorts. After multivariable adjustment, the RBC EPA and DHA content was inversely correlated (all P ≤ 0.001) with 8 biomarkers: urinary isoprostanes (r = −0.16); and soluble interleukin-6 (r = −0.10); C-reactive protein (r = −0.08); tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (r = −0.08); intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (r = −0.08); P-selectin (r = −0.06); lipoprotein-associated phospholipase-A2 mass (r = −0.11) and activity (r = −0.08). The correlations for monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 was −0.05, P = 0.006 and osteoprotegerin (r = −0.06, P = 0.002) were only nominally significant.

      Conclusion

      In our large community-based study, we observed modest inverse associations between several types of inflammatory biomarkers with RBC omega-3 fatty acid levels. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties.

      Keywords

      Abbreviations:

      RBC (red blood cell), PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid(s)), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
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