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

Oscar H. Del Brutto, Robertino M. Mera, Jung eun Ha, Victor J. Del Brutto, Pablo R. Castillo, Mauricio Zambrano, Jennifer Gillman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: 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. Aim: To evaluate the association between oily fish intake and cerebral microbleeds in a population of frequent fish consumers living in coastal Ecuador. Methods: 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. Results: 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). Conclusions: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-743
Number of pages7
JournalAging Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Oily fish consumption is inversely correlated with cerebral microbleeds in community-dwelling older adults: results from the Atahualpa Project'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this