Red blood cell fatty acids and biomarkers of inflammation: A cross-sectional study in a community-based cohort

João D. Fontes, Faisal Rahman, Sean Lacey, Martin G. Larson, Ramachandran S. Vasan, Emelia J. Benjamin, William S. Harris, Sander J. Robins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Introduction: Inflammation and inflammatory biomarkers have emerged as integral components and predictors of incident cardiovascular (CV) disease. Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (EPA and DHA) have anti-inflammatory properties, and have been variably associated with lower blood pressure, favorable blood lipid changes, and reduced CV events. Methods and results: We examined the cross-sectional association of red blood cell (RBC) fatty acids, representative of body membrane fatty acid composition, with 10 biomarkers active in multiple inflammatory pathways in 2724 participants (mean age 66±9 years, 54% women, 8% minorities) from the Framingham Offspring and minority Omni Cohorts. After multivariable adjustment, the RBC EPA and DHA content was inversely correlated (all P≤0.001) with 8 biomarkers: urinary isoprostanes (r=-0.16); and soluble interleukin-6 (r=-0.10); C-reactive protein (r=-0.08); tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (r=-0.08); intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (r=-0.08); P-selectin (r=-0.06); lipoprotein-associated phospholipase-A2 mass (r=-0.11) and activity (r=-0.08). The correlations for monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 was-0.05, P=0.006 and osteoprotegerin (r=-0.06, P=0.002) were only nominally significant. Conclusion: In our large community-based study, we observed modest inverse associations between several types of inflammatory biomarkers with RBC omega-3 fatty acid levels. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-436
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarkers
  • Cross-sectional study
  • Inflammation
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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