Cardiovascular (CV) disease is the leading cause of death after renal transplantation. Marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) exert potential cardio-protective metabolic effects and might reduce CV morbidity and mortality in renal transplant recipients (RTRs).
In this cross-sectional study of 1990 Norwegian RTRs, transplanted between 1999 and 2011, associations between plasma phospholipid marine n-3 PUFA levels and various CV risk markers at 10 weeks after transplant were evaluated.
Higher plasma marine n-3 PUFA levels were associated with lower resting heart rate (rHR), lower fasting plasma glucose (fPG) levels, lower plasma triglyceride levels and higher plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. Plasma levels of eicosapentaenoic acid, but not docosahexaenoic acid, showed a positive association with plasma HDL cholesterol levels. Plasma marine n-3 PUFA levels were not associated with plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, pulse wave velocity or systolic and diastolic blood pressure. A negative association between plasma marine n-3 PUFA levels and CV mortality was weakened by additional adjustment for plasma triglyceride levels and rHR. The ratio of n-6 to n-3 PUFAs showed similar associations with CV risk markers as absolute plasma marine n-3 PUFA levels.
This is the first study in RTRs showing that marine n-3 PUFAs are negatively associated with rHR and fPG in addition to beneficial effects on plasma HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Especially, effects on autonomic nervous function and triglyceride metabolism might contribute to explain the lower CV mortality risk with higher plasma marine n-3 PUFA levels previously shown in this cohort.
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