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Omega-3 fatty acid intake may improve some patient-related outcomes in patients with SLE

Omega-3 fatty acid intake may improve some patient-related outcomes in patients with SLE

November 10, 2017

Prae Charoenwoodhipong, MD

SAN DIEGO — Among patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, dietary consumption of omega-3 appears to be associated with improvement in some patient-reported outcomes, according to findings reported at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting.

“Foods that are high in omega-3, which is generally considered anti-inflammatory, are less common in the western and U.S. diet,” Prae Charoenwoodhipong, MS, a graduate student in the department of nutrition science at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, said in a presentation of the findings. “The very high consumption of omega-6 and low consumption of omega-3 shifts the ratio between proinflammatory omega-6 to anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. There is evidence that suggests that the very high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 contributes to several chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, for which SLE patients are at high risk.”

During a press conference at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, Prae Charoenwoodhipong, MS, noted that the higher levels of omega-6 foods common in Western diets may contribute to an increase in chronic conditions, including autoimmune diseases.

Source: Healio.com

In the population-based, cross-sectional study, Charoenwoodhipong and colleagues gathered baseline data on omega fatty acids from the MILES program, a population-based cohort of SLE cases from southeast Michigan. Questions from the National Cancer Institute’s Diet History Questionnaire II were used to collect the data.

They also obtained patient-reported outcome data, which included the systemic lupus activity questionnaire (SLAQ) RAND 36 health survey, fibromyalgia scale, PROMIS sleep disturbance and PROMIS depression measures. Researchers used multivariable regression, adjusted for age, gender, race, energy intake and BMI to evaluate correlations between omega 3 (n-3) and omega 6 (n-6) fatty acid consumption and patient-reported outcomes.

Of the cases enrolled, 98.7% completed baseline dietary questionnaires. The mean age at baseline was 52.9 years. Overall, 93.2% of patients were female and 45.4% were black. In the analysis adjusted for covariates, an association was seen between higher n-6: n-3 ratios and SLE activity as assessed by SLAQ score. A significant correlation was found between n-3 fatty acid intake and improved sleep quality. A trend was also observed toward significant reduction of depressive symptoms and coexisting fibromyalgia related to n-3 fatty acid intake (OR: 0.817). No correlations were revealed between fatty acid intake and general health-related quality of life.

“From these findings, we suggest that clinicians caring for lupus patients consider recommending that these patients consume more omega-3s and reduce foods that come from omega-6, according to dietary guidelines from the USDA,” Charoenwoodhipong said. “Future studies that look at the impact of omega-3 supplementation might have to take into account the impact of omega-6 in a diet because omega-3 supplementation may be depleted by the high consumption of omega-6.”-by Jennifer Byrne


Charoenwoodhipong P, et al. Abstract #2986; Presented at: American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting; Nov. 4-8, 2017; San Diego.

Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant disclosures.