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Can linoleic acid help prevent stroke?

Presented By
Dr David Wu, University of Minnesota Medical School, MN, USA
Conference
AAN 2021

A Mendelian randomisation study provided evidence for an inverse causal association of circulating linoleic acid levels with risk of ischaemic stroke, particularly large artery stroke.

Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid involved in the human diet. Epidemiological studies have suggested an inverse association between circulating linoleic acid levels and ischaemic stroke [1], but it was unclear whether the observed association is causal or due to confounding or reverse causation. To evaluate the potential causal relationship between circulating linoleic acid levels and risk of ischaemic stroke, summary statistics for ischaemic stroke were obtained from the MEGASTROKE consortium [2]. These data included 34,217 ischaemic stroke cases and 404,630 controls of European ancestry. First author Dr David Wu (University of Minnesota Medical School, MN, USA) explained that 17 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with circulating linoleic acid levels were used as instrumental variables in the Mendelian randomisation analysis, with another 2 SNP sets used in sensitivity analyses.

“We found an inverse causal relationship between circulating linoleic acid levels and ischaemic stroke overall, and especially in large artery stroke,” Dr Wu said. Every 1% increase in genetically predicted linoleic acid levels was inversely associated with a 2% reduction in ischaemic stroke incidence. There was a significant causal association for large artery stroke (OR 0.95; 95% CI 0.92–0.98; P=0.00034), but not for cardioembolic stroke (OR 0.98; 95% CI 0.96–1.00; P=0.05) and small vessel stroke (OR 1.02; 95% CI 0.99–1.05; P=0.11). These findings are robust, as sensitivity analyses using 2 additional SNP sets as instrumental variables resulted in consistent findings.

  1. Zhang W, et al. Nutrition. 2020;79-80:110953.
  2. Wu D, et al. Effect Of Linoleic Acid On Ischemic Stroke: A Mendelian Randomization Study. S21.001, AAN 2021 Virtual Congress, 17-22 April.

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