Association of omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids with incident chronic kidney disease: pooled analysis of 19 cohorts

BMJ. 2023 Jan 18:380:e072909. doi: 10.1136/bmj-2022-072909.


Objective: To assess the prospective associations of circulating levels of omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) biomarkers (including plant derived α linolenic acid and seafood derived eicosapentaenoic acid, docosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid) with incident chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Design: Pooled analysis.

Data sources: A consortium of 19 studies from 12 countries identified up to May 2020.

Study selection: Prospective studies with measured n-3 PUFA biomarker data and incident CKD based on estimated glomerular filtration rate.

Data extraction and synthesis: Each participating cohort conducted de novo analysis with prespecified and consistent exposures, outcomes, covariates, and models. The results were pooled across cohorts using inverse variance weighted meta-analysis.

Main outcome measures: Primary outcome of incident CKD was defined as new onset estimated glomerular filtration rate <60 mL/min/1.73 m2. In a sensitivity analysis, incident CKD was defined as new onset estimated glomerular filtration rate <60 mL/min/1.73 m2 and <75% of baseline rate.

Results: 25 570 participants were included in the primary outcome analysis and 4944 (19.3%) developed incident CKD during follow-up (weighted median 11.3 years). In multivariable adjusted models, higher levels of total seafood n-3 PUFAs were associated with a lower incident CKD risk (relative risk per interquintile range 0.92, 95% confidence interval 0.86 to 0.98; P=0.009, I2=9.9%). In categorical analyses, participants with total seafood n-3 PUFA level in the highest fifth had 13% lower risk of incident CKD compared with those in the lowest fifth (0.87, 0.80 to 0.96; P=0.005, I2=0.0%). Plant derived α linolenic acid levels were not associated with incident CKD (1.00, 0.94 to 1.06; P=0.94, I2=5.8%). Similar results were obtained in the sensitivity analysis. The association appeared consistent across subgroups by age (≥60 v <60 years), estimated glomerular filtration rate (60-89 v ≥90 mL/min/1.73 m2), hypertension, diabetes, and coronary heart disease at baseline.

Conclusions: Higher seafood derived n-3 PUFA levels were associated with lower risk of incident CKD, although this association was not found for plant derived n-3 PUFAs. These results support a favourable role for seafood derived n-3 PUFAs in preventing CKD.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic* / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid


  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated