Adipose tissue triglyceride fatty acids and atherosclerosis in Alaska Natives and non-Natives

Atherosclerosis. 2005 Aug;181(2):353-62. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2005.01.019.


Essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) of the omega-3 family are believed to protect against cardiovascular disease. A rich source of omega-3 PUFA is found in fish and marine mammals (seal, walrus, whale), which are a large part of the traditional diet of Alaska Natives (Eskimo, American Indians, Aleuts), a group that has been reported to have a lower mortality rate from cardiovascular disease than non-Natives. An autopsy study using standardized methods to evaluate the extent of atherosclerosis and its risk factors, and analyses of stored triglyceride fatty acids was conducted in a sample of Alaska Native subjects and non-Native subjects living in Alaska. Findings indicate that Alaska Natives had less advanced atherosclerosis in coronary arteries, along with higher proportions of omega-3 and lower proportions of omega-6 PUFA in adipose tissue, than did non-Natives. We conclude that high dietary intake of omega-3 PUFA may account for the lower extent of coronary artery atherosclerosis, contributing to the reported lower heart disease mortality among Alaska Natives.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Alaska / epidemiology
  • Aortic Diseases / ethnology
  • Aortic Diseases / metabolism
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / ethnology
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / metabolism
  • Coronary Artery Disease / ethnology*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inuits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Triglycerides