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Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of circulating omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids with lipoprotein particle concentrations and sizes: population-based cohort study with 6-year follow-up

Pekka Mäntyselkä12*, Leo Niskanen13, Hannu Kautiainen245, Juha Saltevo6, Peter Würtz78, Pasi Soininen89, Antti J Kangas89, Mika Ala-Korpela101189 and Mauno Vanhala112

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio 70211, Finland

2 Primary Health Care Unit, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio 70211, Finland

3 Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea, Helsinki 00280, Finland

4 Unit of Primary Health Care, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki 00014, Finland

5 Department of General Practice, University of Helsinki, Helsinki 00014, Finland

6 Department of Medicine, Central Finland Central Hospital, Jyväskylä 40620, Finland

7 Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, University of Helsinki, Helsinki 00014, Finland

8 Computational Medicine, Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oulu, Oulu 90014, Finland

9 NMR Metabolomics Laboratory, School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio 70211, Finland

10 Computational Medicine, School of Social and Community Medicine and the Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

11 Oulu University Hospital, Oulu 90014, Finland

12 Primary Health Care Unit, Central Finland Central Hospital, Jyväskylä 40620, Finland

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2014, 13:28  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-28

Published: 7 February 2014



Cross-sectional studies have suggested that serum omega-3 (n-3) and omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are related to favorable lipoprotein particle concentrations. We explored the associations of serum n-3 and n-6 PUFAs with lipoprotein particle concentrations and sizes in a general population cohort at baseline and after 6 years.


The cohort included 665 adults (274 men) with a 6-year follow-up. Nutritional counseling was given at baseline. Serum n-3 and n-6 PUFAs and lipoprotein particle concentrations and the mean particle sizes of VLDL, LDL, and HDL were quantified by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy for all baseline and follow-up samples at the same time. Concentrations of n-3 and n-6 PUFAs were expressed relative to total fatty acids. At baseline, n-3 PUFAs were not associated with lipoprotein particle concentrations. A weak negative association was observed for VLDL (P = 0.021) and positive for HDL (P = 0.011) particle size. n-6 PUFA was negatively associated with VLDL particle concentration and positively with LDL (P < 0.001) and HDL particle size (P < 0.001). The 6-year change in n-3 PUFA correlated positively with the change in particle size for HDL and LDL lipoproteins but negatively with VLDL particle size. An increase in 6-year levels of n-6 PUFAs was negatively correlated with the change in VLDL particle concentration and size, and positively with LDL particle size.


Change in circulating levels of both n-3 and n-6 PUFAs, relative to total fatty acids, during 6 years of follow-up are associated with changes in lipoprotein particle size and concentrations at the population level.

Lipoprotein profile; Fatty acid; Cohort study