Dietary modification may affect inflammatory processes and protect against chronic disease. In the present study, we examined the relationship between dietary patterns, circulating carotenoid and tocopherol concentrations, and biomarkers of chronic low-grade systemic inflammation in a 10-year longitudinal study of Scottish postmenopausal women. Diet was assessed by FFQ during 1997-2000 (n 3237, mean age 54·8 (sd 2·2) years). Participants (n 2130, mean age 66·0 (sd 2·2) years) returned during 2007-11 for follow-up. Diet was assessed by FFQ (n 1682) and blood was collected for the analysis of serum high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), IL-6, serum amyloid A, E-selectin, lipid profile and dietary biomarkers (carotenoids, tocopherols and retinol). Dietary pattern and dietary biomarker (serum carotenoid) components were generated by principal components analysis. A past 'prudent' dietary pattern predicted serum concentrations of hs-CRP and IL-6 (which decreased across the quintiles of the dietary pattern; P= 0·002 and P= 0·001, respectively; ANCOVA). Contemporary dietary patterns were also associated with inflammatory biomarkers. The concentrations of hs-CRP and IL-6 decreased across the quintiles of the 'prudent' dietary pattern (P= 0·030 and P= 0·006, respectively). hs-CRP concentration increased across the quintiles of a 'meat-dominated' dietary pattern (P= 0·001). Inflammatory biomarker concentrations decreased markedly across the quintiles of carotenoid component score (P< 0·001 for hs-CRP and IL-6, and P= 0·016 for E-selectin; ANCOVA). Prudent dietary pattern and carotenoid component scores were negatively associated with serum hs-CRP concentration (unstandardised β for prudent component: - 0·053, 95 % CI - 0·102, - 0·003; carotenoid component: - 0·183, 95 % CI - 0·233, - 0·134) independent of study covariates. A prudent dietary pattern (which reflects a diet high in the intakes of fish, yogurt, pulses, rice, pasta and wine, in addition to fruit and vegetable consumption) and a serum carotenoid profile characteristic of a fruit and vegetable-rich diet are associated with lower concentrations of intermediary markers that are indicative of CVD risk reduction.
Bibliographical noteThe authors are very grateful to Professor Blair Smith and Dr Lynne Hocking (both University of Aberdeen, UK), who oversaw Genetic Health in the 21st Century and Biomarkers for Battling Chronic Diseases studies within Generation Scotland, for allowing us to give the FFQ to the participants and for permission to use some aliquots of collected serum for the analysis; Mr Nicholas J. Vaughan (University of Aberdeen, UK) and Mr Ian Rothnie (Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, UK) for conducting the inflammatory biomarker analyses, and Mr Philip Morrice and Mrs Sharon Wood (both of University of Aberdeen, UK) for their contributions to the carotenoid and tocopherol analyses. The authors are extremely grateful to Mrs Carol Mckerron (University of Aberdeen, UK) for providing administrative support to the study and assisting with the recruitment of the participants. The authors thank the Clinical Research Facility staff for conducting the study visits (University of Aberdeen, UK), and work placement students Emilie Leprovost, Jackie Burr, Catherine Tosh and Rumana Newlands for assistance with the data entry. Finally, the authors thank all of the women who took part in the study.
The present study was supported by the Food Standards Agency and the UK Department of Health (grant no. N05086) and the Scottish Funding Council. G. G. D. and F. T. are grateful for support from the Scottish Government (Rural and Environmental Science and Analytical Services). None of the funders had a role in the design and analysis of the study or in the writing of this article.