Plasma essential fatty acids, cigarette smoking, and dietary antioxidants in peripheral arterial disease - A population-based case-control study

G. C. Leng (Lead / Corresponding author), D. F. Horrobin, F. G.R. Fowkes, F. B. Smith, G. D.O. Lowe, P. T. Donnan, K. Ells

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71 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to determine the levels of plasma fatty acids in patients with peripheral arterial disease and in control subjects and to identify whether any risks of disease related to these differences were influenced by smoking and antioxidant intake. A random sample of 1592 men and women aged 55 to 74 years was selected from the general population (the Edinburgh Artery Study), from which 153 cases of peripheral arterial disease were identified by the presence of intermittent claudication and low ankle systolic pressures at rest and during reactive hyperemia; these were matched by age and sex to 153 control subjects with no evidence of cardiovascular disease. In 113 case and 122 control subjects, fatty acid levels were measured in three plasma fractions (triglyceride, cholesteryl ester, and phospholipid), and smoking habits and dietary antioxidant intake were determined by questionnaire. Arachidonic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA/ n-3) were significantly lower in the cases than controls (P<.01). More case than control subjects were current or exsmokers (86% versus 50%; P<.001), and the case subjects had lower vitamin C intake (64.8 mg versus 71.1 mg; P<.05). By logistic regression adjustment for smoking and vitamin C intake, only DPA/n-3 (odds ratio, 0.19; P<.01) and arachidonic acid (odds ratio, 0.44; P<.05) remained significantly related to disease; only DPA/n-3 reduced the risk associated with smoking. We conclude that in subjects with peripheral arterial disease compared with healthy control subjects, the largest differences occurred in fatty acids of the n-3 series, particularly DPA/n-3. Some of the adverse effects associated with smoking may therefore be partly mediated by differences in essential fatty acid metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-478
Number of pages8
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 1994


  • Antioxidants
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Fatty acids
  • Smoking
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid/blood
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Male
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases/blood
  • Smoking/blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Antioxidants/administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Essential/blood
  • Diet
  • Ascorbic Acid/administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Aged

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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