Age dependence of plasma phospholipid fatty acid levels: potential role of linoleic acid in the age-associated increase in docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid concentrations

R.H.M. de Groot*, M.P.J. van Boxtel, O.J.G. Schiepers, G. Hornstra, J. Jolles

*Corresponding author for this work

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Limited information is available with respect to the association between age and the plasma phospholipid fatty acid profile. Therefore we investigated the association between plasma phospholipid fatty acid status and age after correction for sex, smoking, alcohol use, BMI and fish intake. Plasma phospholipid fatty acid composition was measured and information on fish intake and other potential covariates was collected in 234 participants of the Maastricht Aging Study. The participants were healthy individuals of both sexes with an age range between 36 and 88 years. Hierarchical linear regression analyses were applied to study the relationship between age and fatty acid concentrations. After correction for fish consumption and other relevant covariates, a significant positive relationship was observed between age of the subjects and their plasma phospholipid concentrations of DHA (22 : 6n-3, P = 0.006) and EPA (20 : 5n-3; P = 0.001). Age contributed 2.3 and 3.9 % to the amount of explained variance, respectively. The higher n-3 long-chain PUFA status at advanced age was confirmed by lower concentrations of their putative 'shortage marker' Osbond acid (ObA, 22 : 5n-6; P = 0.022 for the relationship with age after correction for covariates and fish intake, R2 0.022). Concentrations of linoleic acid (LA; 18 : 2n-6) were negatively associated with age (P < 0.001; R2 0.061). In conclusion, DHA and EPA concentrations appeared to be higher in older age groups, partly because of a higher fish intake and partly because of another age-associated mechanism, possibly involving the well-known competition with LA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1058-1064
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

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