Background: For several fatty acids, adipose tissue reflects long-term dietary intake and may provide more objective information than self-reported intake. No prospective studies have examined whether adipose tissue fatty acids predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
Objective: To investigate associations between adipose tissue fatty acids and cardiovascular and overall mortality in a cohort of elderly men. We hypothesized that polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) could be inversely associated with cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
Methods: In the Swedish community-based cohort study ULSAM, adipose tissue biopsies were taken from the buttocks of 853 men at age 71. Cox regression analyses were performed primarily for four PUFA that were considered to reflect dietary intake (linoleic acid, 18:2n-6, alpha-linolenic acid, 18:3n-3, eicosapentaenoic acid, 20:5n-3, and docosahexaenoic acid, 22:6n-3), and for all other available fatty acids (secondary analyses) analyzed by gas-liquid chromatography.
Results: During 20-year follow-up, 605 individuals died of which 251 were cardiovascular deaths. After adjusting for risk factors, none of the four primary fatty acids were associated with cardiovascular mortality (hazard ratios (HR)=0.92-1.05 for each SD increase, P≥0.27). Linoleic acid was inversely associated with mortality (HR=0.90, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.82-0.99, P=0.03). In secondary analyses, palmitoleic acid, 16:1n-7, (HR=1.11, 95% CI 1.02-1.21, P=0.01), and arachidonic acid, 20:4n-6, (HR=1.09, 95% CI 1.00-1.19, P=0.05) were associated with increased mortality, whereas heptadecanoic acid, 17:0, was inversely associated with mortality (HR=0.89, 95% CI 0.79-1.00, P=0.05).
Conclusions: Adipose tissue PUFA was inversely associated with total mortality, but not cardiovascular mortality in elderly men. The mechanisms behind adipose tissue PUFA and longevity warrant further investigation.