Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are hypothesized to modulate the risk of allergic disease. However, evidence from previous studies is inconclusive, and limited longitudinal data exist using circulating biomarkers of PUFA intake and metabolism.
Objectives: We aimed to investigate associations between n-3 and n-6 PUFAs at age 8 years and asthma, rhinitis, and aeroallergen sensitization at age 16 years.
Methods: Proportions of n-3 PUFAs (very long-chain n-3 [VLC n-3; sum of eicosapentaenoic acid, docosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid] and α-linolenic acid) and n-6 PUFAs (linoleic acid and arachidonic acid [AA]) in blood samples at age 8 years were measured for 940 children from the prospective Swedish birth cohort BAMSE (Children, Allergy, Milieu, Stockholm, Epidemiology). Allergic disease phenotypes were defined by using questionnaires and IgE measures at the ages of 8 and 16 years. Logistic regression was used to examine potential associations.
Results: A higher proportion of total VLC n-3 PUFAs in plasma at age 8 years was associated with a reduced risk of prevalent asthma, rhinitis, and aeroallergen sensitization at age 16 years and with incidence of asthma between 8 and 16 years (adjusted odds ratio, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.47-0.94). AA was associated with a reduced risk of asthma, aeroallergen sensitization, and allergic rhinitis. The findings were most evident for allergic phenotypes of asthma and rhinitis. Additionally, AA was associated with an increased probability of asthma and rhinitis remission between 8 and 16 years of age.
Conclusion: Higher proportions of certain VLC n-3 and very long-chain n-6 PUFAs in plasma phospholipids at age 8 years were associated with a reduced risk of allergic disease at age 16 years.