Sioux Falls, SD—The omega-3 DHA may help sufferers of interstitial lung disease (ILD), a condition that encompasses a wide range of disorders, most of which cause progressive scarring to the lungs, according to a new meta-analysis.
A press release from OmegaQuant explains that DHA reduces ILD in experimental models, but human studies are lacking, leading a team of researchers including OmegaQuant’s William Harris, Ph.D., to perform this study.
The analysis looked at several population-based cohort studies: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), the Framingham Heart Study, and the Age Gene/Environment Susceptibility Study. The researchers looked at the association of DHA and other polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) with hospitalizations and death due to ILD and CT lung abnormalities. MESA and Age Gene/Environment Susceptibility both measured PUFA levels from fasting blood samples and plasma phospholipids; the Framingham Heart Study measured PUFA levels in red blood cell membranes.
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Higher DHA levels were associated with a lower risk of hospitalizations due to ILD and a lower rate of death due to ILD. Higher DHA was also associated with fewer interstitial lung abnormalities.
“I think the take-home message of this study is that the severity of an inflammatory disease—this time in the lung—is inversely related to blood omega-3 levels,” Dr. Harris explained. “That is, after adjusting statistically for the other factors that could make one susceptible to interstitial lung disease, a low DHA level was still associated with increased risk for having ILD by lung CT scanning.
“More importantly, a low DHA level was associated with having a greater risk of being hospitalized for ILD and for dying from ILD-related lung disorders. This research suggests that having higher circulating omega-3 levels offer significant protection in this context, which is particularly timely given the COVID-19 pandemic.”