Current Nutrition Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 139–148

Genetic Variants in the FADS Gene: Implications for Dietary Recommendations for Fatty Acid Intake

  • Rasika A. Mathias
  • Vrindarani Pani
  • Floyd H. Chilton
Cardiovascular Disease (JH Goedecke, Section Editor)


Unequivocally, genetic variants within the fatty acid desaturase (FADS) cluster are determinants of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LC-PUFA) levels in circulation, cells, and tissues. A recent series of papers have addressed these associations in the context of ancestry; evidence clearly supports that the associations are robust to ethnicity. However, ~80 % of African Americans carry two copies of the alleles associated with increased levels of arachidonic acid compared with only ~45 % of European Americans, raising important questions of whether gene-PUFA interactions induced by a modern western diet are differentially driving the risk of diseases of inflammation in diverse populations, and are these interactions leading to health disparities. We highlight an important aspect thus far missing in the debate regarding dietary recommendations; we contend that current evidence from genetics strongly suggest that an individual’s, or at the very least the population from which an individual is sampled, genetic architecture must be factored into dietary recommendations currently in place.


Polyunsaturated fatty acids Nutrition Genetic variants Fatty acid desaturase Single nucleotide polymorphisms Arachidonic acid Eicosanoids Inflammation Cardiovascular disease 



α-linolenic acid


Arachidonic acid




Dihomo γ-linolenic acid


Docosahexaenoic acid


Eicosapentaenoic acid


Eicosatetraenoic acid


Coronary artery disease


Cardiovascular disease


γ-linolenic acid


Genome wide association study


Intima-media thickness


Linoleic acid


Long chain


Linkage disequilibrium


Leukotriene B4


18 carbon


Modern western diet


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug










Phospholipase A2


Polyunsaturated fatty acid


Stearidonic acid


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rasika A. Mathias
    • 1
  • Vrindarani Pani
    • 1
  • Floyd H. Chilton
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of MedicineThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.The Center for Botanical Lipids and Inflammatory Disease PreventionWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  3. 3.Department of Physiology/PharmacologyWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  4. 4.Molecular Medicine and Translational SciencesWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA

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