Background: The association between omega-3 (ω-3) PUFAs and cognition, brain imaging and biomarkers is still not fully established.
Objectives: The aim was to analyze the cross-sectional and retrospective longitudinal associations between erythrocyte ω-3 index and cognition, brain imaging, and biomarkers among older adults.
Methods: A total of 832 Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative 3 (ADNI-3) participants, with a mean (SD) age of 74.0 (7.9) y, 50.8% female, 55.9% cognitively normal, 32.7% with mild cognitive impairment, and 11.4% with Alzheimer disease (AD) were included. A low ω-3 index (%EPA + %DHA) was defined as the lowest quartile (≤3.70%). Cognitive tests [composite score, AD Assessment Scale Cognitive (ADAS-Cog), Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS), Trail Making Test, Category Fluency, Mini-Mental State Examination, Montreal Cognitive Assessment] and brain variables [hippocampal volume, white matter hyperintensities (WMHs), positron emission tomography (PET) amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau] were considered as outcomes in regression models.
Results: Low ω-3 index was not associated with cognition, hippocampal, and WMH volume or brain Aβ and tau after adjustment for demographics, ApoEε4, cardiovascular disease, BMI, and total intracranial volume in the cross-sectional analysis. In the retrospective analysis, low ω-3 index was associated with greater Aβ accumulation (adjusted β = 0.02; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.03; P = 0.003). The composite cognitive score did not differ between groups; however, low ω-3 index was significantly associated with greater WMS-delayed recall cognitive decline (adjusted β = -1.18; 95% CI: -2.16, -0.19; P = 0.019), but unexpectedly lower total ADAS-Cog cognitive decline. Low ω-3 index was cross-sectionally associated with lower WMS performance (adjusted β = -1.81, SE = 0.73, P = 0.014) and higher tau accumulation among ApoE ε4 carriers.
Conclusions: Longitudinally, low ω-3 index was associated with greater Aβ accumulation and WMS cognitive decline but unexpectedly with lower total ADAS-Cog cognitive decline. Although no associations were cross-sectionally found in the whole population, low ω-3 index was associated with lower WMS cognition and higher tau accumulation among ApoE ε4 carriers. The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) is registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00106899.
Keywords: Alzheimer disease; biomarkers; brain imaging; cognition; docosahexaenoic acid; eicosapentaenoic acid; mild cognitive impairment; omega-3.
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition.