Long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) can derive from diet or from α-linolenic acid (ALA) by elongation and desaturation. We investigated the association of common genetic variation with plasma phospholipid levels of the four major n-3 PUFAs by performing genome-wide association studies in five population-based cohorts comprising 8,866 subjects of European ancestry. Minor alleles of SNPs in FADS1 and FADS2 (desaturases) were associated with higher levels of ALA (p = 3×10 -64) and lower levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, p = 5×10 -58) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA, p = 4×10 -154). Minor alleles of SNPs in ELOVL2 (elongase) were associated with higher EPA (p = 2×10 -12) and DPA (p = 1×10 -43) and lower docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, p = 1×10 -15). In addition to genes in the n-3 pathway, we identified a novel association of DPA with several SNPs in GCKR (glucokinase regulator, p = 1×10 -8). We observed a weaker association between ALA and EPA among carriers of the minor allele of a representative SNP in FADS2 (rs1535), suggesting a lower rate of ALA-to-EPA conversion in these subjects. In samples of African, Chinese, and Hispanic ancestry, associations of n-3 PUFAs were similar with a representative SNP in FADS1 but less consistent with a representative SNP in ELOVL2. Our findings show that common variation in n-3 metabolic pathway genes and in GCKR influences plasma phospholipid levels of n-3 PUFAs in populations of European ancestry and, for FADS1, in other ancestries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Cancer Research