The aim of this study was to investigate prospective associations of serial measures of plasma phospholipid fatty acids pentadecanoic (15:0), heptadecanoic (17:0), and trans-palmitoleic (trans-16:1n–7) acids with total mortality, cause-specific mortality, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk among older adults.
Among 2907 US adults aged ≥65 y and free of CVD at baseline, circulating fatty acid concentrations were measured serially at baseline, 6 y, and 13 y. Deaths and CVD events were assessed and adjudicated centrally. Prospective associations were assessed by multivariate-adjusted Cox models incorporating time-dependent exposures and covariates.
During 22 y of follow-up, 2428 deaths occurred, including 833 from CVD, 1595 from non-CVD causes, and 1301 incident CVD events. In multivariable models, circulating pentadecanoic, heptadecanoic, and trans-palmitoleic acids were not significantly associated with total mortality, with extreme-quintile HRs of 1.05 for pentadecanoic (95% CI: 0.91, 1.22), 1.07 for heptadecanoic (95% CI: 0.93, 1.23), and 1.05 for trans-palmitoleic (95% CI: 0.91, 1.20) acids.
Circulating heptadecanoic acid was associated with lower CVD mortality (extreme-quintile HR: 0.77; 95% CI: 0.61, 0.98), especially stroke mortality, with a 42% lower risk when comparing extreme quintiles of heptadecanoic acid concentrations (HR: 0.58; 95% CI: 0.35, 0.97). In contrast, heptadecanoic acid was associated with a higher risk of non-CVD mortality (HR: 1.27; 95% CI: 1.07, 1.52), which was not clearly related to any single subtype of non-CVD death. No significant associations of pentadecanoic, heptadecanoic, or trans-palmitoleic acids were seen for total incident CVD, coronary heart disease, or stroke.