Objective: Dietary intake of polyunsaturated n-3 fatty acids has been associated with a reduced incidence of adverse cardiovascular events. The protective mechanisms involved are not fully understood, but may include anti-inflammatory factors. We sought to investigate the relationship between n-3 fatty acid levels in erythrocyte membranes and markers of systemic inflammation in 992 individuals with stable coronary artery disease.
Methods: Cross-sectional associations of C-reactive protein (CRP) and Interleukin-6 (Il-6) with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EHA) were evaluated in multivariable linear regression models adjusted for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, medication use, exercise capacity, body-mass index, and waist-to-hip ratio.
Results: After multivariable adjustment, n-3 fatty acid levels (DHA+EPA) were inversely associated with CRP and IL-6. The inverse association of n-3 fatty acids with CRP and IL-6 was not modified by demographics, body-mass index, smoking, LDL-cholesterol, or statin use (p values for interaction>0.1).
Conclusions: In patients with stable coronary artery disease, an independent and inverse association exists between n-3 fatty acid levels and inflammatory biomarkers. These findings suggest that inhibition of systemic inflammation may be a mechanism by which n-3 fatty acids prevent recurrent cardiovascular events.