Randomized trial of marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for the prevention of cerebral small vessel disease and inflammation in aging (PUFA trial): Rationale, design and baseline results

Academic Article


  • Vascular risk factors for age-related cognitive decline are significant, and their management may ultimately prove the most successful strategy for reducing risk and sustaining cognitive health. This randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial with parallel group allocation to either marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) or soybean oil placebo assesses the effects on the total volume of accumulation in cerebral white matter hyperintensities (WMH), a potentially modifiable neurovascular component of age-related cognitive decline. Total WMH accumulation over 3 years is the primary endpoint. The safety and efficacy of n-3 PUFA is evaluated in older adults with significant WMH and suboptimum plasma n-3 PUFA as inclusion criteria. One hundred and two non-demented older adults were enrolled with a mean age of 81.1 (±4.4) years, WMH of 19.4 (±16.1) cm3, and a plasma n-3 PUFA of 86.64 (±29.21) µg/mL. 61% were female, 28% were apolipoprotein E epsilon 4 carriers, and the mean mini-mental state exam (MMSE) was 27.9 (±1.7). This trial provides an initial evaluation of n-3 PUFA effects on WMH, a reproducible and valid risk biomarker for cognitive decline, as well as on inflammatory biomarkers thought to play a role in WMH accumulation. We present the baseline results and operational experience of enriching a study population on advanced age, blood n-3 PUFA, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) derived WMH with biomarker outcomes (WMH, inflammation markers) in a dementia prevention paradigm.
  • Published In

  • Nutrients  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bowman GL; Silbert LC; Dodge HH; Lahna D; Hagen K; Murchison CF; Howieson D; Kaye J; Quinn JF; Shinto L
  • Volume

  • 11
  • Issue

  • 4