Plasma linoleic acid levels and cardiovascular risk factors: results from the Norwegian ACE 1950 Study



A high intake of linoleic acid (LA), the major dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), has previously been associated with reduced cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality in observational studies. However, recent secondary analyses from clinical trials of LA-rich diet suggest harmful effects of LA on CV health.


A total of 3706 participants, all born in 1950, were included in this cross-sectional study. We investigated associations between plasma phospholipid levels of LA and CV risk factors in a Norwegian general population, characterized by a relative low LA and high marine n-3 PUFA intake. The main statistical approach was multivariable linear regression.


Plasma phospholipid LA levels ranged from 11.4 to 32.0 wt%, with a median level of 20.8 wt% (interquartile range 16.8–24.8 wt%). High plasma LA levels were associated with lower serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (standardized regression coefficient [Std. β-coeff.] −0.04, p = 0.02), serum triglycerides (Std. β-coeff. −0.10, p < 0.001), fasting plasma glucose (Std. β-coeff. −0.10, p < 0.001), body mass index (Std. β-coeff. −0.13, p < 0.001), systolic and diastolic blood pressure (Std. β-coeff. −0.04, p = 0.03 and Std. β-coeff. −0.02, p = 0.02, respectively) and estimated glomerular filtration rate (Std. β-coeff. −0.09, p < 0.001). We found no association between plasma LA levels and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, glycated hemoglobin, carotid intima-media thickness, or C-reactive protein.


High plasma LA levels were favorably associated with several CV risk factors in this study of a Norwegian general population.

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Fig. 1: Patient inclusion.
Fig. 2: Plasma linoleic acid levels and CV risk factors.


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We acknowledge the skilled study staff at the Clinical Trial Unit, Division of Medicine, Akershus University Hospital, and the Department of Medical Research, Bærum Hospital, Vestre Viken Hospital Trust. We also thank the staff at The Lipid Research Laboratory, Aalborg University Hospital, Denmark, who performed the fatty acid analyses. Finally, we would like to thank the study participants.


The ACE (Akershus Cardiac Examination) 1950 Study is funded by two health trusts (Akershus University Hospital HF and Vestre Viken HF), and the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, the University of Oslo, and the Norwegian Health Association. AC was supported by public funding grants from Akershus University Hospital.

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AC, IAE, and MS designed the present study. HR, TO, MNL, TB, and AT designed and organized the ACE 1950 Study including baseline examinations and data collection. TV, HI-H, EBO, and OMR performed carotid ultrasound and baseline examinations. EBS was responsible for the fatty acid analyses. AC, IAE, and SN analyzed the data. AC, IAE, and MS edited the paper, EBS, TO, HR, TV, HI-H, SN, EBO, OMR, MNL, TB, and AT co-edited the paper. All the authors approved the final version of the paper. AC submitted the paper.

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Correspondence to Anupam Chandra.

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Chandra, A., Røsjø, H., Svensson, M. et al. Plasma linoleic acid levels and cardiovascular risk factors: results from the Norwegian ACE 1950 Study. Eur J Clin Nutr (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-020-0641-4

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