Background/objectives: N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been associated with reduced inflammation. We tested the hypothesis that high serum concentrations of the n-3 PUFAs are associated with lower serum C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations in healthy middle-aged Finnish men. We also examined whether exposure to mercury, an environmental contaminant in fish, which is also a major source of long-chain n-3 PUFA, was associated with CRP.
Subjects/methods: Data from the prospective, population-based Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study were analyzed cross-sectionally to determine the associations between serum n-3 PUFAs, hair mercury and serum CRP in 1395 healthy men, aged 42-60 years. Linear regression analyses were performed to analyze the associations.
Results: In the multivariate models, the mean serum CRP in quartiles of serum total n-3 PUFA concentration was 1.23, 1.27, 1.18 and 1.08 mg/l, P for trend = 0.01. Statistically significant inverse associations were also observed with the total serum long-chain n-3 PUFA concentration and with the individual long-chain n-3 PUFAs docosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, but not with eicosapentaenoic acid or with the intermediate-chain n-3 PUFA alpha-linolenic acid. Hair methylmercury content was not associated with serum CRP levels and it did not modify the associations between serum n-3 PUFAs and CRP either.
Conclusions: Serum n-3 PUFAs and especially the long-chain n-3 PUFA concentration, a marker of fish or fish oil consumption, were inversely associated with serum CRP in men. Exposure to mercury was not associated with serum CRP.