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Association Between Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Acylcarnitines and Metabolic Syndrome Risk Revealed in Chinese Population

Dec 29, 2018

In Western populations, higher intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) was showed to be associated with reduced risks of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). But little is known in Asians who have different dietary patterns and variations in genes involving PUFA metabolism.

Acylcarnitines play an essential role in transporting long-chain FAs across the mitochondrial inner membrane for fatty acid oxidation (FAO). However, it remains unclear whether FAO status, indicated by specific acylcarnitine profile, could influence the PUFAs-MetS associations.

Recently, in a study published in Journal of Lipid Research, Prof. LIN Xu’s group from Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health of Chinese Academy of Sciences, collaborating with SUN Qi from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, revealed the association between erythrocyte PUFAs and 6-yr incident metabolic syndrome (MetS), a constellation of cardiometabolic risks.

In this study, researchers investigated 1,245 Chinese aged 50-70 who completed both baseline and a 6-yr follow-up survey from the Nutrition and Health of Aging Population in China (NHAPC).

Researchers found that total n-6 PUFAs and three 22-carbon n-6 PUFAs (22:2n-6, 22:4n-6 and 22:5n-6) were inversely associated with 6-yr incident MetS risk, while 18:3n-3 and 18:3n-6 showed positive associations.

A network analysis was then used to explore the effects of FA, acylcarnitine and their interactions on the PUFAs-MetS associations.

They constructed six modules and found that a module mostly consisted of long-chain n-6 PUFAs and very-long-chain saturated FAs was inversely associated with incident MetS. This inverse association became stronger when a module of short- to medium-chain (C5-C10) acylcarnitines were low.

These results showed the favorable effects of total and certain n-6 PUFAs on cardiometabolic outcomes in an Asian population for the first time, and the inter-play between n-6 PUFAs and acylcarnitines might modulate cardiometabolic risk.

This study was funded by the Major Project of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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