Plasma fatty acid composition is associated with the metabolic syndrome and low-grade inflammation in overweight adolescents

Carine Klein-Platat, Jocelyne Drai, Mohamed Oujaa, Jean Louis Schlienger, Chantal Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

242 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Together with adiposity, plasma fatty acid (FA) composition can modulate the development of the metabolic syndrome (MS). Objective: Our aim was to investigate the relations of FA composition in plasma phospholipids and cholesterol esters (CEs) with weight status, MS, and inflammation in adolescents. Design: Plasma FA composition was measured by gas-liquid chromatography in 120 (60 normal-weight and 60 overweight) 12-y-old adolescents. We also measured the presence of MS, insulin resistance with the homeostasis model assessment, and interleukin 6 and C-reactive protein concentrations in the adolescents. Results: MS was present in 25% of the overweight adolescents but in none of the normal-weight adolescents. Compared with overweight adolescents, normal-weight adolescents had lower saturated FAs (SFAs) in both phospholipids (P < 0.001) and CEs (P < 0.01) and higher docosahexaenoic acid in phospholipids (P < 0.001). In overweight subjects, FA composition was associated with MS features independent of body fat. The odds ratios of MS for a 0.1 increase in the ratio of polyunsaturated FAs (PUFA) to SFAs (PUFA:SFA) were 0.91 in phospholipids (P = 0.03) and 0.90 in CEs (P = 0.06). In phospholipids, PUFA:SFA and linoleic acid were associated positively with HDL cholesterol (P < 0.01 for both). PUFA:SFA in phospholipids and CEs were associated inversely with interleukin 6 (P < 0.05 for both). Eicosapentaenoic acid in phospholipids (P = 0.06) and CEs (P < 0.05) and linolenic acid in CEs (P < 0.05) were inversely related to C-reactive protein. These relations remained significant after adjustment for the waist-to-hip ratio. No significant relation between FA composition and the homeostasis model assessment was observed. Conclusions: Plasma FA composition is associated with weight status in healthy adolescents. High intake of long-chain PUFAs, especially n-3 PUFAs, may protect obese subjects against MS and low-grade inflammation as early as adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1178-1184
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Low-grade inflammation
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Plasma fatty acid composition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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