There is limited evidence from epidemiological studies for the inflammatory or anti-inflammatory properties of fatty acids in blood cell membranes. Therefore, this study examined associations between baseline (n = 282) and 1-year (n = 143) changes in the levels of fatty acids in blood cell membranes with circulating inflammatory markers in older adults at high cardiovascular risk. The data for this cross-sectional analysis was obtained from a case-control study within the PREDIMED study. Linear regression with elastic net penalty was applied to test associations between measured fatty acids and inflammatory markers. Several fatty acids were associated with interferon-γ (IFNγ) and interleukins (ILs) IL-6, IL-8, and IL-10 at baseline and additionally also with IL-1b at 1 year. Omega-6 fatty acids were consistently positively associated with pro-inflammatory IL-6 and IL-8 at baseline. Omega-3 fatty acids including C20:5n3 and C18:3n3 were negatively associated with IFN-γ at 1 year. It is interesting to note that the cis and trans forms of C16:1n7 at 1 year were oppositely associated with the inflammatory markers. C16:1n7trans was negatively associated with IFN-γ, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, and IL-1b, whereas C16:1n7cis was positively associated with IL-1b. This study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting potential differences in inflammatory or anti-inflammatory properties of fatty acids in blood cell membranes.
Keywords: cell membranes; fatty acids; inflammation.