Clinical correlates and heritability of erythrocyte eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid content in the Framingham Heart Study

William S. Harris, James V. Pottala, Sean M. Lacey, Ramachandran S. Vasan, Martin G. Larson, Sander J. Robins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

96 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Red blood cell (RBC) levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, the omega-3 index, expressed as a percent of total fatty acids) are inversely related to risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although several mechanisms underlying this relationship have been proposed, understanding the associations between the omega-3 index and markers of CVD in the community can shed additional light on this question. The objectives of this study were to define the relations between the omega-3 index and clinical factors and to determine the heritability of the omega-3 index. Methods: RBC samples (n = 3196) drawn between 2005 and 2008 from participants in the Framingham Study [Examination 8 of the Offspring cohort plus Examination 3 of the Omni (minorities) cohort] were analyzed for fatty acid composition by gas chromatography. Results: The mean (SD) omega-3 index was 5.6% (1.7%). In multivariable regression models, the factors significantly and directly associated with the omega-3 index were age, female sex, higher education, fish oil supplementation, dietary intake of EPA + DHA, aspirin use, lipid pharmacotherapy, and LDL-cholesterol. Factors inversely associated were Offspring cohort, heart rate, waist girth, triglycerides and smoking. The total explained variability in the omega-3 index for the fully adjusted model was 73%, which included major components due to heritability (24%), EPA + DHA intake (25%), and fish oil supplementation (15%). Conclusion: The variability in the omega-3 index is determined primarily by dietary and genetic factors. An increased omega-3 index is associated with a generally cardioprotective risk factor milieu.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-431
Number of pages7
JournalAtherosclerosis
Volume225
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2012

Keywords

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Epidemiology
  • Erythrocytes
  • Heritability
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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