Blood omega-3 fatty acids and death from COVID-19: A pilot study

Arash Asher, Nathan L. Tintle, Michael Myers, Laura Lockshon, Heribert Bacareza, William S. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Very-long chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 infection. We conducted a pilot study in 100 patients to test the hypothesis that RBC EPA+DHA levels (the Omega-3 Index, O3I) would be inversely associated with risk for death by analyzing the O3I in banked blood samples drawn at hospital admission. Fourteen patients died, one of 25 in quartile 4 (Q4) (O3I ≥5.7%) and 13 of 75 in Q1–3. After adjusting for age and sex, the odds ratio for death in patients with an O3I in Q4 vs Q1–3 was 0.25, p = 0.07. Although not meeting the classical criteria for statistical significance, this strong trend suggests that a relationship may indeed exist, but more well-powered studies are clearly needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102250
JournalProstaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Inflammation
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Omega-3 index
  • Total mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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