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Diabetologia. 2012 Nov;55(11):2954-62. doi: 10.1007/s00125-012-2674-2. Epub 2012 Aug 12.

Erythrocyte trans-fatty acids, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors in middle-aged and older Chinese individuals.

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Key Laboratory of Nutrition and Metabolism, Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 294 Taiyuan Rd, Shanghai 200031, People's Republic of China.



Few data are available about intakes and food sources of trans-fatty acids (TFAs) or their associations with cardiometabolic outcomes in Asian people who consume a prudent diet but are experiencing rapid nutritional transitions. We aimed to investigate the relationships between TFA biomarkers and type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors in Chinese individuals.


Erythrocyte fatty acids were measured by gas chromatography among 3,107 men and women (50-70 years) recruited from urban and rural areas in Beijing and Shanghai, China.


Total trans-18:1 and two trans-18:2 isomers were detected and accounted for 0.37% of the total fatty acids in the erythrocytes. Concentrations of TFAs were higher in women than men, and in urban than rural residents. Of the TFAs, trans-18:1, but not trans-18:2, showed a modest association with dairy consumption (β = 0.27), but not with other foods. After adjustment for BMI, social-demographic, lifestyle and dietary factors and other TFAs, erythrocyte trans-18:1 was shown to be associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (OR comparing extreme [first and fourth] quartiles 0.68, 95% CI 0.48, 0.97, p(trend) = 0.02), as well as 20-50% lower odds of central obesity, dyslipidaemia, hyperglycaemia, insulin resistance and chronic inflammation. In contrast, trans-18:2 fatty acids were positively associated with high triacylglycerol (p(trend) < 0.001) and LDL-cholesterol (p(trend) = 0.03) levels, but not with diabetes and other cardiometabolic risk factors.


Among middle-aged and older Chinese individuals with overall low erythrocyte TFAs levels, trans-18:1 might serve as a marker of dairy intake. Higher trans-18:1 levels were associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, whereas higher trans-18:2 levels were associated with dyslipidaemia.

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