Recent studies have highlighted the potential protective role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) in asthma. This study aimed at determining the association between seafood intake, serum PUFA composition and clinical endpoints of asthma in adults.

 A cross-sectional study of 642 subjects used the European Committee Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) questionnaire, skin prick tests, spirometry, and methacholine challenge tests following ATS guidelines.

Sera has analyzed for n-3 and n-6 PUFA composition. Subjects had a mean age of 34 years, were largely female (65%) and 51% were current smokers. While 99% reported fish consumption, rock lobster, mussels, squid and abalone were also consumed less frequently.

Fish consumption

The prevalence of asthma symptoms was 11%, current asthma (ECRHS definition) was 8% and non-specific bronchial hyperresponsiveness (NSBH) was much higher (26%) In adjusted models n-3 PUFAs 20:5 (EPA) and 22:5 (DPA) were significantly associated with a decreased risk of having NSBH. 

Total n-3 PUFA composition was associated with decreased NSBH risk (OR = 0.92), while high n-6 PUFA composition was associated with an increased risk (OR = 1.14).

In examining the relationship between fatty acids and respiratory health outcomes, studies have also investigated the frequency of dietary intake of fish or seafood as a proxy measure for n-3 PUFA consumption.

A strong correlation between habitual fish intake and serum EPA and docosa-pentaenoic acid (DPA) levels has been demonstrated, suggesting that serum concentration of n-3 PUFA is a useful biomarker for dietary fish intake. Plasma n-3 PUFA is also significantly higher in women than in men and 20% higher in fish-oil consumers compared to non-fish-oil consumers.

While most studies have relied on self-reporting of dietary intake to estimate n-3 PUFA intake, studies evaluating serum fatty acid composition and asthma outcomes in young adults have demonstrated consistent associations between the composition of specific n-6 fatty acids and higher asthma risk using various definitions of asthma outcomes.

A significant protective effect for asthma incidence related to n-3 PUFA intake has also been shown in a recent large cohort study of young adults. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between serum fatty acid status and various asthma endpoints in a predominantly female working population employed in the fish processing factory and living in a coastal village. Various clinical endpoints of asthma were evaluated to assess the strength and consistency of associations observed.