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Adipose tissue n-3/n-6 fatty acids ratios versus n-3 fatty acids fractions as predictors of myocardial infarction.

BACKGROUND: Tissue levels of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been inversely related with risk of myocardial infarction (MI). Whether ratios of n-3 to n-6 PUFAs, reflecting both dietary intake of n-3 PUFAs and competing n-6 PUFAs, are better predictors of future MI than n-3 PUFA fractions is unclear. We aimed at investigating whether such ratios in adipose tissue better predict MI than n-3 PUFA fractions.

METHODS: Subcutaneous adipose tissue biopsies were obtained in a random sample (n = 3,500) of the Diet, Cancer and Health cohort (n = 57,053). Adipose tissue content of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), arachidonic acid (AA) and linoleic acid was determined using gas chromatography. Fractions of selected n-3 PUFAs and n-3/n-6 PUFA ratios were correlated to the 15-year occurrence of MI in a case-cohort design.

RESULTS: A total of 2,406 participants experienced an MI during follow-up. Adipose tissue total marine n-3 PUFAs, EPA+DHA, EPA, EPA/AA, DHA/AA and (EPA + DPA + DHA)/AA were all inversely associated with risk of incident MI. Evaluating the predictive power (Harrel's C-index) of the selected metrics, fractions of marine n-3 PUFAs and ratios of EPA/AA, DHA/AA, (EPA + DHA)/AA and (EPA + DPA + DHA)/AA all refined risk prediction over age and sex alone. At multivariable analyses, however, the above ratios were the only metrics providing additional risk prediction. Differences in ratios were related to differences in food intake.

CONCLUSIONS: Both adipose tissue n-3 PUFAs fractions and ratios of n-3 PUFAs/AA were associated with a lower occurrence of MI, but ratios provided superior risk prediction. Dietary strategies affecting n-3/n-6 PUFA ratios should be further investigated for prediction of MI with dietary interventions at the population level and in intervention studies.

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