Erythrocyte Membrane Phospholipid Composition as a Biomarker of Dietary Fat Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND/AIMS: In a cross-sectional study, we investigated the relationship between erythrocyte membrane phospholipid fatty acid composition and dietary fat; we also investigated roles of menopausal status, age, body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) in interindividual variation of the biomarker. METHODS: Study participants were 204 women, aged 39-65 years, drawn from the ORDET cohort and selected as controls in a study of breast cancer. Membrane composition was assessed using capillary gas chromatography. Dietary fat composition was evaluated using a food frequency questionnaire. RESULTS: In pre- and postmenopausal women, erythrocyte membrane phospholipid levels of linoleic acid, oleic acid, and mono-unsaturated fatty acids were significantly associated with corresponding dietary measures (partial correlation coefficients: 0.23 and 0.39; 0.45 and 0.47; 0.40 and 0.48; respectively, in pre- and postmenopausal women). Among postmenopausal women, membrane poly-unsaturated fatty acids were correlated with the corresponding dietary measure (r=0.39, p<0.001). Membrane eicosapentanoic and docosahexanoic acid levels were significantly correlated with intake of fish/shell fish : r=0.21 and r=0.43 (premenopausal), and r=0.41 and r=0.44 (postmenopausal). Age, BMI and WHR had independent effects on membrane lipid composition. Age was associated with delta-6 desaturase activity in postmenopausal women (r=0.25, p<0.05). BMI was negatively associated with delta-9 desaturase activity in both pre- and postmenopausal women (r=-0.29, p=0.01 and r=-0.22, p<0.01, respectively). WHR was negatively associated with delta-5 desaturase activity in pre-menopausal women (r=-024, p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Erythrocyte membrane levels of some specific fatty acids can be used as biomarkers of these fatty acids as proportions of dietary fat.


  • Fuhrman, Barbara J
  • Barba, Maddalena
  • Krogh, Vittorio
  • Micheli, Andrea
  • Pala, Valeria
  • Lauria, Rossella
  • Chajes, Veronique
  • Riboli, Elio
  • Sieri, Sabina
  • Berrino, Franco
  • Muti, Paola

publication date

  • 2006

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