Serum Levels of Dihomo-Gamma (γ)-Linolenic Acid (DGLA) Are Inversely Associated with Linoleic Acid and Total Death in Elderly Patients with a Recent Myocardial Infarction

Nutrients. 2021 Sep 30;13(10):3475. doi: 10.3390/nu13103475.


Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) is an n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) derived from linoleic acid (LA). The LA:DGLA ratio reflects conversion from LA to DGLA. Low levels of DGLA in serum have been related to poor outcome in myocardial infarction (MI) patients. Aims: To assess the association of DGLA and LA:DGLA with total death as a primary aim and incident cardiovascular events as a secondary objective. Methods: Baseline samples from 1002 patients, aged 70 to 82 years, included 2-8 weeks after an MI and followed for 2 years, were used. Major adverse clinical events (MACE) consisted of nonfatal MI, unscheduled coronary revascularization, stroke, hospitalization for heart failure or all-cause death. Cox regression analysis was used to relate serum n-6 PUFA phospholipid levels (%wt) to the risk of MACE, adjusting for the following: (1) age, sex and body mass index (BMI); (2) adding baseline cod liver oil supplementation; (3) adding prevalent hypertension, chronic kidney disease and diabetes mellitus. Results: Median DGLA level in serum phospholipids was 2.89 (Q1-Q3 2.43-3.38) %wt. DGLA was inversely related to LA and LA:DGLA ratio. There were 208 incident cases of MACE and 55 deaths. In the multivariable analysis, the hazard ratio (HR) for the total death in the three higher quartiles (Q2-4) of DGLA as compared to Q1 was 0.54 (0.31-0.95), with p = 0.03 (Model-1), 0.50 (0.28-0.91), with p = 0.02 (Model-2), and 0.47 (0.26-0.84), with p = 0.012 (Model-3), and non-significant for MACE. Risk of MACE (Model 3) approached borderline significance for LA:DGLA in Q2-4 vs. Q1 [HR 1.42 (1.00-2.04), p = 0.052]. Conclusions: Low levels of DGLA were related to a high LA:DGLA ratio and risk of total death in elderly patients with recent MI.

Keywords: DGLA; LA:DGLA ratio; all-cause mortality; biomarker; delta-6-desaturase; dihomo-gamma (γ)-linolenic acid; myocardial infarction; n-6 fatty acids; prognosis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • 8,11,14-Eicosatrienoic Acid / blood*
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Linoleic Acid / blood*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Myocardial Infarction / blood*
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality*
  • Phospholipids / blood
  • Proportional Hazards Models


  • Phospholipids
  • Linoleic Acid
  • 8,11,14-Eicosatrienoic Acid