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Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):449-54.

n-3 Fatty acid erythrocyte membrane content, APOE varepsilon4, and cognitive variation: an observational follow-up study in late adulthood.

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  • 1Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom. l.j.whalley@abdn.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Evidence for an inverse relation between dietary intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and age-related cognitive decline is inconsistent. This inconsistency may arise because the relation is present only in the absence of the apolipoprotein E epsilon4 (APOE epsilon4) allele.

OBJECTIVE:

We aimed to determine the contribution of erythrocyte n-3 PUFA content to cognitive aging in the presence or absence of the APOE epsilon4 allele.

DESIGN:

We followed up 120 volunteers, born in 1936, at approximate ages of 64, 66, and 68 y. Their intelligence quotient at 11 y old was available. At first follow-up, we determined APOE genotype and measured the PUFA composition of erythrocyte membranes. Six cognitive tests were administered at all follow-ups. We related cognitive performance at approximately 64 y old and cognitive changes from approximately 64 to approximately 68 y old to erythrocyte n-3 PUFA composition on recruitment and to APOE epsilon4 allele status.

RESULTS:

Total n-3 PUFA and docosohexaenoic acid concentrations were associated with benefits for cognition at approximately 64 y old and from approximately 64 to approximately 68 y old. After adjustment for sex, APOE epsilon4 status, and intelligence quotient at 11 y old, the effects associated with total n-3 PUFA remained significant. Cognitive benefits were associated with higher erythrocyte n-3 PUFA content but were significant only in the absence of the APOE epsilon4 allele.

CONCLUSIONS:

These data are evidence of a gene x environment interaction for cognitive aging. They are relevant to the analysis of trials of n-3 PUFA supplements in cognitive aging and dementia prevention, and they support heterogeneity in cognitive aging and, possibly, in Alzheimer disease.

PMID:
18258638
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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