Whether circulating fatty acids (FAs) play a causal role in the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains unclear. We conducted a Mendelian randomisation study to explore the associations between plasma phospholipid FA levels and 15 CVDs. Summary-level data from the CARDIoGRAMplusC4D, MEGASTROKE, and Atrial Fibrillation consortia and UK Biobank were used. Sixteen single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with ten plasma FAs were used as instrumental variables. SNPs in or close to the FADS1
gene were associated with most FAs. We performed a secondary analysis of the association between a functional variant (rs174547) in FADS1
, which encodes ?5-desaturase (a key enzyme in the endogenous FA synthesis), and CVD. Genetic predisposition to higher plasma α-linolenic, linoleic, and oleic acid levels was associated with lower odds of large-artery stroke and venous thromboembolism, whereas higher arachidonic and stearic acid levels were associated with higher odds of these two CVDs. The associations were driven by SNPs in or close to FADS1
. In the secondary analysis, the minor allele of rs174547 in FADS1
was associated with significantly lower odds of any ischemic stroke, large-artery stroke, and venous thromboembolism and showed suggestive evidence of inverse association with coronary artery disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm and aortic valve stenosis. Genetically higher plasma α-linolenic, linoleic, and oleic acid levels are inversely associated with large-artery stroke and venous thromboembolism, whereas arachidonic and stearic acid levels are positively associated with these CVDs. The associations were driven by FADS1
, which was also associated with other CVDs.
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