Research Paper Volume 16, Issue 6 pp 5711—5739

Relationship between fatty acid intake and aging: a Mendelian randomization study

Yuhua Chen1,2,3, *, , Lian Yang4,5, *, , Kui Wang6, *, , Yu An1, *, , Yuping Wang2,3, , Ya Zheng2,3, , Yongning Zhou2,3, ,

  • 1 The First Clinical Medical College, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • 2 Department of Gastroenterology, The First Hospital of Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • 3 Gansu Province Clinical Research Center for Digestive Diseases, The First Hospital of Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • 4 Department of Radiology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430022, China
  • 5 Hubei Key Laboratory of Molecular Imaging, Wuhan 430022, China
  • 6 Department of Gastroenterology, Ruijin Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Shanghai, Shanghai, China
* Equal contribution

Received: November 16, 2023       Accepted: February 26, 2024       Published: March 26, 2024
How to Cite

Copyright: © 2024 Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Background: Observational studies have previously shown a possible link between fatty acids and aging-related diseases, raising questions about its health implications. However, the causal relationship between the two remains uncertain.

Methods: Univariable and multivariable Mendelian randomization (MR) was used to analyze the relationship between five types of fatty acids—polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), saturated fatty acid (SFA), Omega-6 fatty acid (Omega-6 FA), and Omega-3 fatty acid (Omega-3 FA) and three markers of aging: telomere length (TL), frailty index (FI), and facial aging (FclAg). The primary approach for Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis involved utilizing the inverse variance weighted (IVW) method, with additional supplementary methods employed.

Results: Univariate MR analysis revealed that MUFA, PUFA, SFA, and Omega-6 fatty acids were positively associated with TL (MUFA OR: 1.019, 95% CI: 1.006-1.033; PUFA OR: 1.014, 95% CI: 1.002-1.026; SFA OR: 1.016, 95% CI: 1.002-1.031; Omega-6 FAs OR=1.031, 95% CI: 1.006-1.058). PUFA was also associated with a higher FI (OR: 1.033, 95% CI: 1.009-1.057). In multivariate MR analysis, after adjusting for mutual influences among the five fatty acids, MUFA and PUFA were positively independently associated with TL (MUFA OR: 1.1508, 95% CI = 1.0724-1.2350; PUFA OR: 1.1670, 95% CI = 1.0497-1.2973, while SFA was negatively correlated (OR: 0.8005, 95% CI: 0.7045-0.9096).

Conclusions: Our research presents compelling evidence of a causal association between certain fatty acids and indicators of the aging process. In particular, MUFA and PUFA may play a role in slowing down the aging process, while SFAs may contribute to accelerated aging. These findings could have significant implications for dietary recommendations aimed at promoting healthy aging.


Cis: confidence intervals; FA: fatty acids; FclAg: facial aging; FI: frailty index; GWAS: genome-wide association studies; GRADE: Grades of Recommendation Assessment Development and Evaluation; IVs: instrumental variables; IVW: inverse variance weighted; IVW-MRE: inverse variance weighted (multiplicative random effects); MR: Mendelian randomization; MAF: minimum allele frequency; MUFA: monounsaturated fatty acid; MR-PRESSO: MR Pleiotropy RESidual Sum and Outlier; OR: odd ratio; PUFA: polyunsaturated fatty acid; qPCR: quantitative polymerase chain reaction; RCTs: randomized controlled trials; SFA: saturated fatty acid; SMSFAs: short-to-medium-chain saturated fatty acids; SNPs: single nucleotide polymorphisms; TL: telomere length.