The human retina is well-known to have unique lipid profiles enriched in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) and very long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (VLC-PUFAs) that appear to promote normal retinal structure and function, but the influence of diet on retinal lipid profiles in health and disease remains controversial. In this study, we examined two independent cohorts of donor eyes and related their retinal lipid profiles with systemic biomarkers of lipid intake. We found that serum and red blood cell lipids, and to a lesser extent orbital fat, are indeed excellent biomarkers of retinal lipid content and n-3/n-6 ratios in both the LC-PUFA and VLC-PUFA series. Eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) donors have significantly decreased levels of VLC-PUFAs and low n-3/n-6 ratios. These results are consistent with the protective role of dietary n-3 LC-PUFAs against AMD and emphasize the importance of monitoring systemic biomarkers of lipid intake when undertaking clinical trials of lipid supplements for prevention and treatment of retinal disease.

PMID: 26764040

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