Association of red blood cell n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids with plasma inflammatory biomarkers among the Quebec Cree population

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Sep;68(9):1042-7. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.125. Epub 2014 Jul 16.


Background/objectives: We examined the prevalence of elevated plasma high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) concentrations and associations with red blood cell (RBC) long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn-3PUFA) in the James Bay Cree population from the province of Quebec (Canada).

Subjects/methods: A total of 744 Cree adults (18-91 years) from seven communities of Eastern James Bay were included in these cross-sectional analyses. Associations between RBC LCn-3PUFA and proinflammatory markers (hs-CRP, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α)) were assessed by using multivariate general linear models with adjustment for sex, age and waist circumference. An arbitrary inflammation score was defined based on the sum of the quartiles of hs-CRP, IL-6 and TNF-α concentrations (range=3-12).

Results: Elevated hs-CRP concentrations (>3 mg/l) were present in 46.9% (95% confidence interval (CI) 43.3-50.5) of the James Bay Cree population. RBC docosapentaenoic acid (DPAn-3; C22:5n-3) was inversely associated with hs-CRP, TNF-α and the inflammation score (all P trend<0.02), whereas eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6n-3) in RBC were not associated with inflammation (all P trend>0.18). Among participants with RBC DPAn-3 levels above the median of the population, odds ratio of having an elevated inflammation score (≥9) was 0.67 (95% CI, 0.48-0.93) compared with participants below the median.

Conclusions: RESULTS indicate that low-grade systemic inflammation is highly prevalent and that higher RBC DPAn-3 levels are associated with a lower risk of systemic inflammation in the James Bay Cree population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Inflammation / epidemiology
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • docosapentaenoic acid