HealthDay News — Long-chain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn3PUFAs) attenuate the inverse association between fine particular matter (PM2.5) exposure and white matter volumes, according to a study published online July 15 in Neurology.
Cheng Chen, Ph.D., from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues examined whether LCn3PUFA levels modify the potential neurotoxic effects of PM2.5 exposure on brain volumes among 1,315 women aged 65 to 80 years enrolled in an observational study between 1996 and 1999 and who underwent structural brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 2005 to 2006. The three-year average PM2.5 exposure was estimated before MRI.
The researchers found that participants with higher levels of red blood cell LCn3PUFA had significantly greater volumes of white matter and hippocampus after adjustment for potential confounders. For each interquartile increment in omega-3 index (2.02 percent), the average volume was 5.03 and 0.08 cm³ greater in the white matter and hippocampus, respectively. In the total brain and multimodal association areas (frontal, parietal, and temporal), higher LCn3PUFA attenuated the inverse associations between PM2.5 exposure and white matter volumes; associations with other brain regions were not modified. For dietary intakes of LCn3PUFAs and nonfried fish, consistent results were seen.
“Our findings suggest that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood from fish consumption may preserve brain volume as women age and possibly protect against the potential toxic effects of air pollution,” a coauthor said in a statement.
One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.