Association of serum n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids with C-reactive protein in men

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012 Jun;66(6):736-41. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.195. Epub 2011 Nov 23.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats / blood*
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / blood
  • Finland
  • Fish Oils / blood
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology
  • Hair / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Mercury / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Seafood
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / blood


  • Dietary Fats
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Fish Oils
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • Mercury
  • docosapentaenoic acid