Associations between Serum Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels and Cognitive Functions among Community-Dwelling Octogenarians in Okinawa, Japan: The KOCOA Study

Junko Nishihira, Takashi Tokashiki, Yasushi Higashiuesato, Donald Craig Willcox, Nora Mattek, Lynne Shinto, Yusuke Ohya, Hiroko Dodge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Background: Epidemiological studies have found frequent consumption of fatty fish is protective against cognitive decline. However, the association between circulating omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels and cognitive functions among the oldest old is not well known. Objective: To examine the association between serum PUFA levels and cognitive function among community-dwelling, non-demented elderly aged over 80 years old. Methods: The data came from the Keys to Optimal Cognitive Aging (KOCOA) study; an ongoing cohort of relatively healthy volunteers aged over 80 years old, living in Okinawa, Japan. One hundred eighty five participants (mean age 84.1±3.4 years) assessed in 2011 who were free from frank dementia (defined as Clinical Dementia Rating <1.0) were used for the current cross-sectional study. We examined whether serum omega-3 PUFAs (docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] and eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA]), arachidonic acid (AA), EPA/AA ratio, DHA/AA ratio, and DHA+EPA are associated with (1) age and (2) global cognitive function (Japanese MMSE) and executive function (Verbal Fluency Letter). Data was analyzed univariately by t-test and multivariately by cumulative logistic regression models controlling for age, gender, years of education, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia. Results: Serum DHA levels decreased with increasing age (p = 0.04). Higher global cognitive function was associated with higher levels of serum EPA (p = 0.03) and DHA+ EPA (p = 0.03) after controlling for confounders. Conclusions: Higher serum EPA and DHA+ EPA levels were independently associated with better scores on global cognitive function among the oldest old, free from dementia. Longitudinal follow-up studies are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-866
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 30 2016



  • Cognitive function
  • DHA
  • EPA
  • non-demented subjects
  • Okinawa
  • oldest old
  • PUFA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this