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Atherosclerosis. 2009 Mar;203(1):298-303. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2008.06.020. Epub 2008 Jul 1.

Relationships between serum fatty acid composition and multiple markers of inflammation and endothelial function in an elderly population.

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  • 1Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala Science Park, 75185 Uppsala, Sweden.



Fatty acid (FA) composition in serum has been associated with C-reactive protein (CRP), but associations with other markers of inflammation and endothelial function, e.g. adhesion molecules are unknown. We recently suggested a possible role of the lipogenic enzyme stearoyl coenzymeA desaturase-1 (SCD-1) in inflammation. This study investigates the associations between serum FA composition, including SCD-1 index, and various inflammatory and endothelial function markers.


264 Swedish men and women aged 70 years participated in this cross-sectional population-based study. FA composition was measured in serum cholesteryl esters and was correlated to inflammatory markers (CRP, interleukin [IL]-2, IL-6, IL-8, tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-alpha, vascular cellular adhesion molecule [VCAM]-1, intercellular adhesion molecule [ICAM]-1, E-selectin, P-selectin, L-selectin, interferon-gamma, and monocyte chemoattractant protein [MCP]-1), using linear regression analysis. SCD-1 activity was estimated by FA product-to-precursor ratio (16:1/16:0).


Serum FA composition was significantly associated with CRP and E-selectin but not with other inflammatory markers. After adjusting for BMI, smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption and lipid-lowering therapy, the proportion of palmitoleic acid and SCD-1 index were positively correlated with CRP concentrations (P=0.003 and P=0.001, respectively).


A FA composition reflecting high intake of saturated fat and a high SCD-1 index is independently related to CRP concentrations, but not to other markers of inflammation and endothelial function in this population of elderly men and women. Given the absent association between FA composition and the other markers, CRP may be the preferable marker to use when investigating potential relationships between FAs and low-grade inflammation.

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