Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 737–743 | Cite as

Oily fish consumption is inversely correlated with cerebral microbleeds in community-dwelling older adults: results from the Atahualpa Project

  • Oscar H. Del BruttoEmail author
  • Robertino M. Mera
  • Jung-eun Ha
  • Victor J. Del Brutto
  • Pablo R. Castillo
  • Mauricio Zambrano
  • Jennifer Gillman
Original Article



Oily fish is a major dietary source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFAs). These nutrients improve endothelial dysfunction, reduce β-amyloid induced damage of neurovascular units, and might prevent the occurrence of cerebral microbleeds. However, this relationship has not been investigated so far.


To evaluate the association between oily fish intake and cerebral microbleeds in a population of frequent fish consumers living in coastal Ecuador.


Cerebral microbleeds were identified by gradient-echo MRI and oily fish consumption was calculated in community-dwellers aged ≥60 years enrolled in the Atahualpa Project. The association between cerebral microbleeds and fish servings was examined in regression models adjusted for relevant confounders. A predictive model was constructed using quintiles of fish servings to take into account the non-linearity in the relationship.


Out of 311 eligible individuals, 293 (94 %) were enrolled. Cerebral microbleeds were recognized in 37 (13 %) individuals. Mean fish consumption was 8.8 ± 5.4 servings per week (ω-3 PUFAs estimates: 10.2 ± 7.1 g). Multivariate analysis showed an inverse relationship between cerebral microbleeds and fish consumption (p < 0.001). Predictive margins of CMB were higher for individuals in the lowest (≤4.3) than for those in the highest (≥13.1) quintile of fish servings (17.4 vs 2.3 %, p < 0.001).


This study shows a lower cerebral microbleed presence among older adults eating large amounts of oily fish (13 servings per week, equivalent to about 15 g of ω-3 PUFAs). These high requirements can be more readily accomplished in other populations by taking fish oil preparations. Longitudinal studies are warranted to assess whether these interventions reduce incident cerebral microbleeds in high-risk individuals.


Oily fish Omega-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids Cerebral microbleeds Population-based study Ecuador 



This study was supported by Universidad Espiritu Santo, Ecuador.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Nothing to disclose.

Statement of human and animal rights

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Institutional Review Board of Hospital Clinica Kennedy, and with the 1964 Helsinski declaration and its later amendmstudies witents. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in this study


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oscar H. Del Brutto
    • 1
    • 2
    • 8
    Email author
  • Robertino M. Mera
    • 3
  • Jung-eun Ha
    • 4
  • Victor J. Del Brutto
    • 5
  • Pablo R. Castillo
    • 6
  • Mauricio Zambrano
    • 7
  • Jennifer Gillman
    • 4
  1. 1.School of MedicineUniversidad Espíritu Santo-EcuadorGuayaquilEcuador
  2. 2.Department of Neurological SciencesHospital-Clínica KennedyGuayaquilEcuador
  3. 3.Medical CenterVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  4. 4.Langone Medical CenterNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Department of NeurologyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  6. 6.Sleep Disorders CenterMayo Clinic College of MedicineJacksonvilleUSA
  7. 7.Community CenterThe Atahualpa ProjectAtahualpaEcuador
  8. 8.MiamiUSA

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