Do High Levels of n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Cell Membranes Increase the Risk of Postoperative Atrial Fibrillation?

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Abstract

Objectives:

Postoperative atrial fibrillation (POAF) has been associated with an inflammatory response to the surgical procedure. n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) have been proposed for the prevention of POAF. We investigated the relationship between the plasma concentration of inflammatory mediators, levels of n-3 LC-PUFA in red blood cell (RBC) membrane lipids, and the risk of POAF after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

Methods:

A total of 125 patients who underwent CABG were studied. Inflammatory mediators in plasma and the content of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in RBC membranes were assessed.

Results:

Sixty-two patients (49.6%) developed POAF. The POAF group had higher RBC levels of total n-3 LC-PUFA and DHA than did patients remaining in sinus rhythm (p < 0.05). Of the inflammatory mediators, only postoperative interleukin-6 levels differed, being higher in the POAF group (p < 0.05). Inflammatory mediators were not independent predictors of POAF by multivariable logistic regression analysis. Higher levels of DHA and total n-3 LC-PUFA in RBC membranes, measured immediately prior to CABG and on postoperative day 3, were linearly associated with an increased risk of POAF (p < 0.05).

Conclusions:

Our findings suggest that inflammatory mediators are not associated with the occurrence of POAF. Interestingly, high n-3 LC-PUFA levels in RBC membranes appear to increase the risk of POAF.

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