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Red Blood Cell DHA Is Inversely Associated with Risk of Incident Alzheimer’s Disease and All-Cause Dementia: Framingham Offspring Study

Sala-Vila A, Satizabal C, Tintle N, Lent D, Vasan R, Beiser A, Seshadri S, Harris W (2022) Nutrients  

Web URL: Read this article on MDPI


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) might help prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Red blood cell (RBC) status of DHA is an objective measure of long-term dietary DHA intake. In this prospective observational study conducted within the Framingham Offspring Cohort (1490 dementia-free participants aged ≥65 years old), we examined the association of RBC DHA with incident AD, testing for an interaction with APOE-ε4 carriership.

During the follow-up (median, 7.2 years), 131 cases of AD were documented.

In fully adjusted models, risk for incident AD in the highest RBC DHA quintile (Q5) was 49% lower compared with the lowest quintile (Q1) (Hazard ratio [HR]: 0.51, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.27, 0.96). An increase in RBC DHA from Q1 to Q5 was predicted to provide an estimated 4.7 additional years of life free of AD.

We observed an interaction DHA × 
APOE-ε4 carriership for AD. Borderline statistical significance for a lower risk of AD was observed per standard deviation increase in RBC DHA (HR: 0.71, 95% CI: 0.51, 1.00, p = 0.053) in APOE-ε4 carriers, but not in non-carriers (HR: 0.85, 95% CI: 0.65, 1.11, p = 0.240).

These findings add to the increasing body of literature suggesting a robust association worth exploring dietary DHA as one strategy to prevent or delay AD.