Background: Acculturation to the U.S. is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but the etiologic pathways are not fully understood. Plasma fatty acid levels exhibit ethnic differences and are emerging as biomarkers and predictors of cardiovascular disease risk. Thus, plasma fatty acids may represent one pathway underlying the association between acculturation and cardiovascular disease. We investigated the cross-sectional relationship between acculturation and plasma phospholipid fatty acids in a diverse sample of Hispanic and Chinese-American adults. Methods and Findings: Participants included 377 Mexican, 320 non-Mexican Hispanic, and 712 Chinese adults from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, who had full plasma phospholipid assays and acculturation information. Acculturation was determined from three proxy measures: nativity, language spoken at home, and years in the U.S., with possible scores ranging from 0 (least acculturated) to 5 (most acculturated) points. α-Linolenic acid, linoleic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and arachidonic acid were measured in fasting plasma. Linear regression models were conducted in race/ethnicity-stratified analyses, with acculturation as the predictor and plasma phospholipid fatty acids as the outcome variables. We ran secondary analyses to examine associations between acculturation and dietary fatty acids for comparison. Covariates included age, gender, education, and income. Contrary to our hypothesis, no statistically significant associations were detected between acculturation and plasma phospholipid fatty acids for Chinese, non-Mexican Hispanic, or Mexican participants. However, acculturation was related to dietary total n-6 fatty acids and dietary n-3/n-6 ratios in expected directions for Mexican, non-Mexican Hispanic, and combined Hispanic participants. In Chinese individuals, acculturation was unexpectedly associated with lower arachidonic acid intake. Conclusion: Absence of associations between acculturation and plasma phospholipid fatty acids suggests that changes in the plasma phospholipid fatty acids studied do not account for the observed associations of acculturation to the U.S. and cardiovascular disease risk. Similar findings were observed for eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, when using dietary intake. However, the observed associations between dietary n-6 fatty acids and acculturation in Hispanic individuals suggest that dietary intake may be more informative than phospholipids when investigating acculturation effects. In Chinese individuals, acculturation may have a possible protective effect through decreased arachidonic acid intake. Further research on dietary fatty acids and other cardiovascular disease biomarkers is needed to identify possible etiologic mechanisms between acculturation and cardiovascular disease.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work is a publication of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA/ARS) Children''s Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, and had been funded in part with federal funds from the USDA/ARS under Cooperative Agreement No. 58-6250-0-008. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the USDA, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement from the US government. CSD was supported by a Primary Care Research Training Grant from National Research Service Award (#T32 HP10031). ACF-W was supported in part by American Heart Association grant number 14BGIA18740011. MESA and the MESA SHARe project are conducted and supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in collaboration with MESA investigators. Support for MESA is provided by contracts N01-HC-95159, N01-HC-95160, N01-HC-95161, N01-HC-95162, N01-HC-95163, N01-HC-95164, N01-HC-95165, N01-HC-95166, N01-HC-95167, N01-HC-95168, and N01-HC-95169 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and by grants UL1-TR-000040 and UL1-TR-001079 from NCRR. A full list of participating MESA investigators and institutions can be found at http://www.mesa-nhlbi.org. The authors would like to thank all the investigators, staff, and participants of the MESA study for their valuable contributions.