Erythrocyte membrane fatty acid composition is related to overloaded plasma ferritin in Chinese males with angiographic coronary artery disease†
Not only is iron deficiency an abnormal iron status, but iron overload is also harmful for human health. It has been reported that overloaded iron stores are positively associated with increased coronary artery disease (CAD) risk, which is called the “iron-heart hypothesis”. Previous studies evaluating the relationships between fatty acids (FAs) and body iron status only focused on participants with iron deficiency. However, whether FA composition is related to overloaded iron remains unclear. Therefore, this study was designed to investigate the relationships between erythrocyte membrane FA (Ery-FA) composition and overloaded body iron status as measured by plasma ferritin levels in Chinese CAD patients. A total of 446 subjects with angiographically identified CAD (mean age 63.1 years, 76.9% males) were recruited in a hospital between 2009 and 2010. Ery-FAs were measured by gas chromatography and the activities of FA desaturases, which are involved in the de novo synthesis of unsaturated FAs, were evaluated by using FA product-to-precursor ratios. Results showed that the average iron status was a bit overloaded in the population (median ferritin levels of 234.1 ng mL−1 and 40.4% males of overload). Moreover, in males, saturated FAs (SFAs) were positively correlated (22 : 0, r = 0.182, p = 0.001; 24 : 0, r = 0.214, p < 0.001), whereas monounsaturated FAs (MUFAs) and n-6 polyunsaturated FAs (PUFAs) were negatively correlated (18 : 1n-9, r = −0.120, p = 0.028; 18 : 2n-6, r = −0.216, p < 0.001) with plasma ferritin levels. A negative correlation (r < 0, p < 0.05) between stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD) activity and ferritin levels was also found in males. However, all the significant associations above were not observed in females. In conclusion, the Ery-FA composition was related to overloaded plasma ferritin levels only in Chinese males with angiographic CAD, which might be linked to the change of SCD activity. The results may contribute to the understanding of the mechanism of the iron-heart hypothesis.