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11-12-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Dietary fatty acids important in low-grade inflammation


Free abstract

MedWire News: Research shows that serum fatty acid composition and desaturase activity are associated with levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) - a marker of low-grade inflammation and atherosclerotic disease - in Japanese men and women.

"We found that a fatty acid composition with a high proportion of palmitic acid or low proportion of alpha-linolenic acid in men, and high proportion of dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid or low D5D [delta 5 desaturase] in both sexes, was associated with an increased CRP concentration," write Kalpana Pudel-Tandukar (Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan) and team.

Previous studies in Western populations have shown associations of CRP with serum fatty acid composition and desaturase activity, they say. However, no studies have investigated these associations in Asian populations, which have a different habitual dietary fatty acid intake from Western populations.

To address this, the researchers used data from 489 Japanese adults (286 men and 203 women), aged 21-67 years, who had serum measures of CRP, fatty acid composition, and desaturase activities available.

As reported in the journal Atherosclerosis, having a high proportion of serum palmitic acid was significantly associated with an increased concentration of CRP; men in the highest quartile of palmitic acid had CRP levels 58% higher than those in the lowest quartile.

Mean CRP concentration in men in the highest quartile of alpha-linolenic acid was 33% lower than in men in the lowest quartile, which, the researchers say, "confirms the presence of a protective association between dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid and serum CRP concentrations in Japanese men."

In both men and women, mean CRP levels were significantly increased with an increasing proportion of dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, and tended to decrease with increasing D5D.

These findings suggest that dietary fatty acids may be among the important underlying factors of low-grade inflammation, comment the authors.

They conclude: "Further prospective studies to confirm the role of fatty acids with desaturase against inflammation are warranted."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Nikki Withers