Previously, we found that omega-3 fatty acids (n-3 FAs) were inversely associated with anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) positivity in participants at risk for future rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We investigated whether n-3 FAs were also associated with rheumatoid factor (RF) positivity and whether these associations were modified by shared epitope (SE) positivity.
The Studies of the Etiology of RA (SERA) cohort includes RA-free participants who are at increased risk for RA. We conducted a nested case-control study (n=136) to determine the association between RF and anti-CCP2 positivity and n-3 FA percentage in erythrocyte membranes (n-3 FA% in red blood cells (RBCs)). Additionally, in the baseline visit of the SERA cohort (n=2166), we evaluated the association between reported n-3 FA supplement use and prevalence of RF and anti-CCP2. We assessed SE positivity as an effect modifier.
In the case-control study, increasing n-3 FA% in RBCs was inversely associated with RF positivity in SE-positive participants (OR 0.27, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.79), but not SE-negative participants. Similar associations were seen with anti-CCP positivity in SE-positive participants (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.20 to 0.89), but not SE-negative participants. In the SERA cohort at baseline, n-3 FA supplement use was associated with a lower prevalence of RF positivity in SE-positive participants (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.82), but not SE-negative participants; similar but non-significant trends were observed with anti-CCP2.
The potential protective effect of n-3 FAs on RA-related autoimmunity may be most pronounced in those who exhibit HLA class II genetic susceptibility to RA.
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PMID: 27190099

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