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 Harris, Sander J. Robins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 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
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes



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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Cite this

Fontes, J. D., Rahman, F., Lacey, S., Larson, M. G., Vasan, R. S., Benjamin, E. J., ... Robins, S. J. (2015). Red blood cell fatty acids and biomarkers of inflammation: A cross-sectional study in a community-based cohort. Atherosclerosis, 240(2), 431-436.