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Plasma Omega-3 and Omega-6 Influence the Risk of Allergies through Adolescence

4/17/2018 3:02:48 PM
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have a mediating effect on inflammation and therefore might modulate the risk of allergic disease. Relying on data from a longitudinal birth cohort study in Sweden, researchers investigated whether omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs in plasma phospholipids at the age of 8 influenced the risk of asthma, rhinitis, and aeroallergen sensitization up to age 16.
 
The study sample included 940 children with baseline data about relevant cofounders, data on fish intake at age 8, and data from questionnaires and clinical examinations at ages 8 and 16. Fatty acid proportions of plasma phospholipids were measured by using gas chromatography, IgE antibodies were analyzed with ImmunoCAP to common aeroallergens, and symptoms of asthma or rhinitis were evaluated by questionnaire and clinical exam.
 
A higher proportion of total very long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (DHA, DPA, and EPA) in the plasma at age 8 was associated with a reduced risk of asthma, rhinitis, and aeroallergen sensitization prevalence at age 16 as well as a reduced risk of new-onset asthma, rhinitis, and aeroallergen sensitization between the ages of 8 and 16. Higher plasma levels of the omega-3 PUFA, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), at age 8 were associated with a reduced risk of prevalent and new onset aeroallergen sensitization and with an increased probability of remission from asthma and rhinitis between the ages of 8 and 16. Higher levels of the omega-6 fatty acid, arachidonic acid (AA), were also associated with a reduced risk of asthma and aeroallergen sensitization at the age of 16. All of these associations were more pronounced for allergic types of asthma and rhinitis than for non-allergic types.
 
Whereas the prevailing understanding of PUFAs has been that omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects and omega-6 fatty acids have pro-inflammatory effects, the reality is more complex. The omega-6 AA is a precursor for pro-inflammatory prostaglandin D2 but also for prostaglandin E2, which may halt inflammation. This study reports that higher plasma proportions of omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs at the age of 8 reduce the risk of allergic disease through age 16.
 
Reference
Magnusson J, Ekström S, Kull I et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in plasma at 8 years and subsequent allergic disease. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017