Objective. The aim of this study was to investigate omega-3 fatty acid (FA) supplement use and omega-3 FAs in erythrocyte membranes [omega-3 FA % in erythrocyte membranes (RBC)] and their association with anti-CCP autoantibodies in a population without RA, but who are at genetic risk for RA.
Methods. The multicentre Studies of the Etiology of RA (SERA) cohort includes RA-free subjects who are first-degree relatives of RA probands or are enriched with the HLA-DR4 allele. In a nested case-control study, 30 SERA cases were identified who were anti-CCP2 antibody positive. We further identified 47 autoantibody negative controls, frequency matched to cases on age at study visit, sex, race and study site. Anti-CCP2 status, self-reported omega-3 FA supplement use and omega-3 FA % in RBCs were obtained from a single visit.
Results. Anti-CCP2 positive cases were less likely than controls to report omega-3 FA supplement use (odds ratio: 0.14; 95% CI 0.03, 0.68). In addition, the likelihood of anti-CCP2 positivity was inversely associated with total omega-3 FA % in RBCs (odds ratio: 0.47; 95% CI 0.24, 0.92, for a S.D. increase).
Conclusion. The inverse association between anti-CCP2 positivity and self-reported omega-3 FA supplement use and omega-3 FA % in RBCs suggests that omega-3 FAs may protect against the development of RA-related autoimmunity in pre-clinical RA.