Erythrocyte omega-3 fatty acids are inversely associated with incident dementia: Secondary analyses of longitudinal data from the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS)

Eric M. Ammann, James V. Pottala, Jennifer G. Robinson, Mark A. Espeland, William Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective To assess whether red blood cell (RBC) docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid (DHA+EPA) levels have a protective association with the risk of dementia in older women. Methods RBC DHA+EPA levels were assessed at baseline, and cognitive status was evaluated annually in a cohort of 6706 women aged ≥65 years who participated in the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS). Cox regression was used to quantify the association between RBC DHA+EPA and the risk of probable dementia, independent of major dementia risk factors. Results During a median follow-up period of 9.8 years, 587 incident cases of probable dementia were identified. After adjusting for demographic, clinical, and behavioral risk factors, a one standard deviation increase in DHA+EPA levels was associated with a significantly lower risk of dementia (HR = 0.92, 95% CI: 0.84, 1.00; p < 0.05). This effect estimate did not meaningfully change after further adjustment for baseline cognitive function and APOE genotype. For women with high DHA+EPA exposure (1 SD above mean) compared to low exposure (1 SD below mean), the adjusted 15-year absolute risk difference for dementia was 2.1% (95% CI: 0.2%, 4.0%). In secondary analyses, we also observed a protective association with longitudinal change in Modified Mini-Mental State (3MS) Exam scores, but no significant association with incident MCI, PD/MCI, or baseline 3MS scores. Discussion Higher levels of DHA+EPA may help protect against the development of dementia. Results from prospective randomized controlled trials of DHA+EPA supplementation are needed to help clarify whether this association is causal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-75
Number of pages8
JournalProstaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
Volume121
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • All cognitive disorders/dementia
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Biomarkers
  • Cohort studies
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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