Peripheral Artery Disease Is Associated with a Deficiency of Erythrocyte Membrane n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Joel L. Ramirez, Greg J. Zahner, Kimberly A. Spaulding, Sukaynah A. Khetani, Nancy K. Hills, Warren J. Gasper, William S. Harris, Beth E. Cohen, S. Marlene Grenon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Population-based data suggest that individuals who consume large dietary amounts of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have lower odds of peripheral artery disease (PAD); however, clinical studies examining n-3 PUFA levels in patients with PAD are sparse. The objective of this study is to compare erythrocyte membrane fatty acid (FA) content between patients with PAD and controls. We conducted a cross-sectional study of 179 vascular surgery outpatients (controls, 34; PAD, 145). A blood sample was drawn and the erythrocyte FA content was assayed using capillary gas chromatography. We calculated the ratio of the n-3 PUFA eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to the n-6 PUFA arachidonic acid (ARA) as well as the omega-3 index (O3I), a measure of erythrocyte content of the n-3 PUFA, EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), expressed as a percentage of total erythrocyte FA. Compared with controls, patients with PAD smoked more and were more likely to have hypertension and hyperlipidemia (p < 0.05). Patients with PAD had a lower mean O3I (5.0 ± 1.7% vs 6.0 ± 1.6%, p < 0.001) and EPA:ARA ratio (0.04 ± 0.02 vs 0.05 ± 0.05, p < 0.001), but greater mean total saturated fats (39.5 ± 2.5% vs 38.5 ± 2.6%, p = 0.01). After adjusting for several patient characteristics, comorbidities, and medications, an absolute decrease of 1% in the O3I was associated with 39% greater odds of PAD (odds ratio [OR] 1.39, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.03–1.86, and p = 0.03). PAD was associated with a deficiency of erythrocyte n-3 PUFA, a lower EPA:ARA ratio, and greater mean total saturated fats. These alterations in FA content may be involved in the pathogenesis or development of poor outcomes in PAD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-219
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Lipid analysis
  • n-3 fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Cell Biology


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