Associations between a Mediterranean diet pattern and inflammatory biomarkers in European adolescents

Aline Arouca, Nathalie Michels, Luis A. Moreno, Esther M. González-Gil, Ascensión Marcos, Sonia Gómez, Ligia Esperanza Díaz, Kurt Widhalm, D. Molnár, Yannis Manios, Frederic Gottrand, Antonio Kafatos, Mathilde Kersting, Michael Sjöström, Alejandro de la O, Marika Ferrari, Inge Huybrechts, Marcela Gonzalez-Gross, Stefaan de Henauw

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To test whether the Mediterranean diet score and each food-subgroup is associated with inflammatory biomarkers in European adolescents. Methods: In 464 adolescents (13–17 years) of the European HELENA study, data were available on body composition, inflammation markers, and food intake determined by two computerized 24-h recalls. The Mediterranean diet score and its food-subgroups (Vegetables, Fruits and Nuts, Pulses, Cereal and Roots, Monounsaturated/Saturated fat ratio, Dairy, Fish, Meat and Alcohol) were evaluated. A set of inflammation-related biomarkers was measured: IL-1, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, TGFβ-1, TNF-α, sVCAM-1, sICAM1, sE-selectin, white blood cells, lymphocytes, CD3, CRP, GGT, ALT, and homocysteine. Multivariate and multiple linear regression analyses were adjusted for age, sex, country, socioeconomic status, paternal and maternal education, adiposity, and smoking habits. Results: The Mediterranean diet score was positively associated with CRP, and negatively with sVCAM-1. The subgroups showed the following positive/negative associations: Vegetables with IL-10(+), CRP(+), CD3(+), ALT(+), lymphocytes(+), sE-selectin(−); Fruits and Nuts with IL-4(−), TNF-alpha; Pulses with IL-5(+), IL-6(+), IL-2(−); Cereals and Roots with IL-6(−), IL-10(−); Monounsaturated/Saturated-fat ratio with IL-6(+), TGFβ-1(+), sVCAM-1(+boys, −girls), homocysteine(−); Dairy with IL-1(+), IL-5(+), IL-6(+), IL-10(+), TGFβ-1(+), homocysteine(−); Fish with homocysteine(−); Meat with IL-2(+), IL-10(+); Alcohol with CRP(+), lymphocytes(−). Sex differences were found. Conclusion: Some specific food–inflammation associations were found, suggesting that diet is to a certain extent already related to inflammation in adolescents and can be used in disease prevention. Also some counterintuitive results were found, which might be due to grouping very different foods into a single group, besides considering that the human body may respond differently depending on the interaction between diet, lifestyle, genetics, biochemical individuality, age and sex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Apr 18 2017


  • Adolescents
  • Diet–inflammation associations
  • Inflammation
  • Mediterranean diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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  • Cite this

    Arouca, A., Michels, N., Moreno, L. A., González-Gil, E. M., Marcos, A., Gómez, S., Díaz, L. E., Widhalm, K., Molnár, D., Manios, Y., Gottrand, F., Kafatos, A., Kersting, M., Sjöström, M., de la O, A., Ferrari, M., Huybrechts, I., Gonzalez-Gross, M., & de Henauw, S. (Accepted/In press). Associations between a Mediterranean diet pattern and inflammatory biomarkers in European adolescents. European Journal of Nutrition, 1-14.