Omega-3 fatty acids in adipose tissue and risk of atrial fibrillation

Eur J Clin Invest. 2022 Jan;52(1):e13649. doi: 10.1111/eci.13649. Epub 2021 Jul 13.


Background: The aim of the present study was to examine the relation between adipose tissue content of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the risk of incident atrial fibrillation (AF).

Methods: In this case-cohort study based on data from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort, a total of 5255 incident cases of AF was identified during 16.9 years of follow-up. Adipose tissue biopsies collected at baseline from all cases and from a randomly drawn subcohort of 3440 participants were determined by gas chromatography. Data were analysed using weighted Cox regression.

Results: Data were available for 4741 incident cases of AF (2920 men and 1821 women). Participants in the highest vs. the lowest quintile of EPA experienced a 45% lower risk of AF (men HR 0.55 (95% CI 0.41-0.69); women HR 0.55 (0.41-0.72)). For DHA, no clear association was found in men, whereas in women, participants in the highest quintile of DHA in adipose tissue had a 30% lower risk of incident AF (HR 0.70 (0.54-0.91)) compared to participants in the lowest quintile.

Conclusions: A monotonous inverse association was found for the content of EPA in adipose tissue and risk of AF in both men and women. The content of DHA was inversely associated with the risk of AF in women, whereas no clear association was found for men.

Keywords: adipose tissue; atrial fibrillation; docosahexaenoic acid; eicosapentaenoic acid; fish oils; n-3 fatty acids.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / etiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / analysis*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / physiology*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / analysis*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment


  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid