Fatty acid status and its relationship to cognitive decline and homocysteine levels in the elderly.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), especially the n-3 series, are known for their protective effects. Considering that cardiovascular diseases are risk factors for dementia, which is common at aging, the aim of this study was to evaluate whether fatty acid status in the elderly was associated with cognitive function and cardiovascular risk. Forty-five elderly persons (age ≥ 60 years) were included and divided into two groups based on their Mini-Mental Status Examination score adjusted for educational level: the case group (n = 12) and the control group (n = 33). Serum fatty acid composition, homocysteine (Hcy), hs-CRP, lipid profile and different cognitive domains were evaluated. The case group, characterized by reduced cognitive performance, showed higher levels of 14:0, 16:0, 16:1n-7 fatty acids and lower levels of 22:0, 24:1n-9, 22:6n-3 (DHA) and total PUFAs compared to the control group (p < 0.05). The n-6/n-3 ratio was elevated in both study groups, whereas alterations in Hcy, hs-CRP and lipid profile were observed in the case group. Cognitive function was positively associated with the 24:1n-9, DHA and total n-3 PUFAs, while 14:0, 16:0 and 16:1n-7 fatty acids, the n-6/n-3 ratio and Hcy were inversely associated. In addition, n-3 PUFAs, particularly DHA, were inversely associated with cardiovascular risk, assessed by Hcy levels in the elderly.