Abstract

Association between erythrocyte omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels and fatty liver index in older people


Author: Meagan Rosea, Martin Veyseyb, Mark Lucockc, Suzanne Niblettb, Katrina Kingb, Surinder Bainesd, Manohar L. Garga
Source: Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism Volume 5, September 2016, Pages 78–85
Publication Date: Volume 5, September 2016, Pages 78–85

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Abstract

Highlights

Study results suggest a negative association between the omega-3 index and fatty liver index which is sex dependent.

Longer-term trials are warranted to examine the role of increased intake of n-3PUFA's in preventing NAFLD in older people.

Provides evidence for the potential role of sex-specific targeted nutrition interventions.
Abstract
Background/Objectives

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is highly prevalent in older people but currently no specific drugs are available for its treatment. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3PUFA), known for their lipid-lowering, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive properties, may have therapeutic potential for the management of NAFLD. The aim of this study was to determine whether n-3PUFA levels are associated with the prevalence of NAFLD in older adults.

Methods

A cross-sectional sample of older adults aged 65–95 years (n = 620) from the Retirement Health and Lifestyle Study (RHLS) was analysed. Fatty Liver Index (FLI) scores, used as an indicator of NAFLD risk, were calculated using a validated algorithm that incorporates body mass index, waist circumference, plasma triglycerides and γ-glutamyl transferase. Omega-3 index scores (O3I, %eicosapentaenoic acid plus %docosahexaenoic acid) were determined by analysing the fatty acid composition of erythrocyte membranes by gas chromatography.

Results

Following application of exclusion criteria, 475 participants were included in the analysis (age 77.9 ± 7.0 years; 60.4% females). Of these, 216 participants had FLI scores (≥60) suggestive of NAFLD (age 77.0 ± 6.6 years; 49.1% females). O3I was significantly lower in participants with NAFLD compared to those without NAFLD (p < 0.01). A significant inverse relationship was found between O3I and FLI (r = −0.165; p < 0.001). This relationship was gender specific with women, but not men, showing a significant association (r = −0.206; p < 0.001).

Conclusions

The current study demonstrated a sex-dependent inverse relationship between erythrocyte n-3PUFA concentrations and NAFLD in older adults. The finding supports the proposal for sex-stratified n-3PUFA intervention trials in this high-risk age group.