WEDNESDAY, Oct. 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) — In a predominantly middle-aged cohort, higher omega-3 fatty acid concentrations are associated with better brain structure and cognitive function, according to a study published online Oct. 5 in Neurology.

Claudia L. Satizabal, Ph.D., from UT Health San Antonio, and colleagues examined the cross-sectional association of red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid concentrations with magnetic resonance imaging and cognitive markers of brain aging in a community-based sample of predominantly middle-aged adults. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) concentrations were measured, and the omega-3 index was calculated as DHA + EPA.

Data were included for 2,183 dementia- and stroke-free participants (22 percent APOE ε4 carriers). The researchers found that a higher omega-3 index was associated with larger hippocampal volumes and better abstract reasoning in multivariable models. Similar results were seen for DHA and EPA concentrations separately. Associations were seen between higher DHA concentrations or omega-3 index and larger hippocampal volumes in APOE ε4 noncarriers, while in APOE ε4 carriers, higher EPA concentrations were related to better abstract reasoning. In APOE ε4 carriers only, higher levels of all omega-3 predictors were related to lower white matter hyperintensity burden.

“These results need to be confirmed with additional research, but it’s exciting that omega-3 levels could play a role in improving cognitive resilience, even in middle-aged people,” Satizabal said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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