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Effect of dietary alpha-linolenic acid on blood inflammatory markers: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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Abstract

Purpose

The aim of the current meta-analysis was to investigate the effect of increasing dietary ALA intake on the blood concentration of inflammatory markers including tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin 6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1), and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) in adults.

Methods

After a systemic search on PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane library and bibliographies of relevant articles, 25 randomized controlled trials that met the inclusion criteria were identified.

Results

No significant effect of dietary ALA supplementation was observed on TNF (SMD: −0.03, 95% CI −0.36 to 0.29), IL-6 (SMD: −0.17, 95% CI −0.46 to 0.12), CRP (SMD: −0.06, 95% CI −0.24 to 0.12), sICAM-1 (SMD: −0.06, 95% CI −0.26 to 0.13), and sVCAM-1 (SMD: −0.24, 95% CI −0.56 to 0.09). Subgroup analysis revealed that increasing dietary ALA tends to elevate CRP concentration in healthy subjects. However, the null effect of ALA supplementation on other inflammatory markers was not changed in various subgroups, indicating that the results are stable. Meta-regression results revealed a negative relationship between the effect size on CRP and its baseline concentration. No significant publication bias was observed for all inflammatory markers as suggested by funnel plot and Begg’s test.

Conclusion

Our meta-analysis did not find any beneficial effect of ALA supplementation on reducing inflammatory markers including TNF, IL-6, CRP, sICAM-1, and sVCAM-1. However, in healthy subjects, ALA supplementation might increase CRP concentration.

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Acknowledgements

This study is supported by the program of “Collaborative innovation center of food safety and quality control in Jiangsu Province,” “National Natural Science Foundation of China (31401525)” and “China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2015M571666).”

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Su, H., Liu, R., Chang, M. et al. Effect of dietary alpha-linolenic acid on blood inflammatory markers: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Nutr 57, 877–891 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-017-1386-2

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