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Nutrients. 2019 Dec 27;12(1). pii: E74. doi: 10.3390/nu12010074.

Higher Omega-3 Index Is Associated with Better Asthma Control and Lower Medication Dose: A Cross-Sectional Study.

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Priority Research Centre for Healthy Lungs, Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle, NSW 2305, Australia.
School of Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.
School of Biomedical Science and Pharmacy, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.


Asthma is a chronic inflammatory airway disease, associated with systemic inflammation. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) have established anti-inflammatory effects, thus having potential as an adjunct therapy in asthma. This study aimed to compare erythrocyte n-3 PUFA in adults with (n = 255) and without (n = 137) asthma and determine the relationship between erythrocyte n-3 PUFA and clinical asthma outcomes. Subjects had blood collected, lung function measured and Juniper Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ) score calculated. Fatty acids were measured in erythrocyte membranes by gas chromatography, and the omega-3 index (O3I) was calculated (% eicosapentaenoic acid + % docosahexaenoic acid). O3I was similar in subjects with and without asthma (p = 0.089). A higher O3I was observed in subjects with controlled or partially controlled asthma (ACQ < 1.5) compared to subjects with uncontrolled asthma (ACQ ≥ 1.5) (6.0% (5.4-7.2) versus 5.6% (4.6-6.4) p = 0.033). Subjects with a high O3I (≥8%) had a lower maintenance dose of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) compared to those with a low O3I (<8%) (1000 μg (400-1000) versus 1000 μg (500-2000) p = 0.019). This study demonstrates that a higher O3I is associated with better asthma control and with lower ICS dose, suggesting that a higher erythrocyte n-3 PUFA level may have a role in asthma management.


asthma; fatty acids; inflammation; nutritional biomarkers; omega-3 index

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