Beneficial n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels and n6:n3 ratios after 4-week EPA + DHA supplementation associated with reduced CRP: A pilot study in healthy young adults


Chronic systemic inflammation is associated with many conditions of aging such as atherosclerosis. Lowering high n-6:n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) ratios are commonly found in Western diets aids in preventing inflammatory-related diseases. However, it is not clear whether dietary interventions designed to alter n-6:n-3 PUFA ratios can reduce systemic inflammation in younger adults. Studies that evaluate PUFA intake often use subjective data from food frequency questionnaires or food records rather than more precise physiological measures of PUFAs (e.g. plasma levels). Therefore, the purpose of this pilot study that analyzed data from the experimental parent study of younger adults (n = 18), was to determine whether plasma PUFA levels were associated with levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker, and if supplementation with n-3 PUFAs was correlated with rising n-3 PUFA concentrations in plasma and decreasing n-6:n-3 ratios. In the parent study, participants received daily either placebo or n-3 PUFA softgels (1.6 g eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and 1.2 g docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]). EPA and DHA are the biologically active components in fish oil. Measures included blood for PUFA quantification at baseline and four weeks later, when blister wounds were created and wound fluid and saliva were collected. The saliva samples were used to measure CRP in the present study. We report that CRP was significantly and negatively correlated with total n-3 PUFAs (tau-β = ?0.373, p = 0.031) and positively correlated with n-6:n-3 ratios (tau-β = 0.320, p = 0.063). Those consuming EPA + DHA supplements had significantly higher concentrations of total n-3 PUFAs and significantly lower n-6:n-3 ratios (p < 0.001). The present study has shown that beneficial levels of n-3 PUFAs and n-6:n3 ratios were achieved with 4-weeks of EPA + DHA supplementation and were associated with reduced CRP in young adults. EPA + DHA supplementation for some young adults may help prevent inflammatory conditions later in life.

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McDaniel, J. , Ickes, E. and Holloman, C. (2013) Beneficial n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels and n6:n3 ratios after 4-week EPA + DHA supplementation associated with reduced CRP: A pilot study in healthy young adults. Modern Research in Inflammation, 2, 59-68. doi: 10.4236/mri.2013.24008.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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