Journal Mobile Options
Table of Contents
Vol. 50, No. 2, 2006
Issue release date: February 2006
Ann Nutr Metab 2006;50:95–102

Erythrocyte Membrane Phospholipid Composition as a Biomarker of Dietary Fat

Fuhrman B.J. · Barba M. · Krogh V. · Micheli A. · Pala V. · Lauria R. · Chajes V. · Riboli E. · Sieri S. · Berrino F. · Muti P.
aDepartment of Social and Preventive Medicine, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, N.Y., USA; bDepartment of Endocrinology and Medical Oncology, Federico II Medical School of Naples, Naples, cUnita’ Operativa di Epidemiologia, and dUnità di Epidemiologia Descrittiva e Programmazione Sanitaria, Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, Milan, Italy; eLaboratoire de Biologie des Tumeurs, Universite R. Rabelais, Tours, and fUnit of Nutrition and Cancer, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France; gNational Cancer Institute Regina Elena, Rome, Italy

Individual Users: Register with Karger Login Information

Please create your User ID & Password

Contact Information

I have read the Karger Terms and Conditions and agree.

To view the fulltext, please log in

To view the pdf, please log in


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.

Copyright / Drug Dosage

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.


  1. Reed CF: Phospholipid exchange between plasma and erythrocytes in man and the dog. J Clin Invest 1968;47:749–760.
  2. Mulder E, van Deenen LL: Metabolism of red-cell lipids. 3. Pathways for phospholipid renewal. Biochim Biophys Acta 1965;106:348–356.
  3. Phillips GB, Dodge JT: Composition of phospholipids and of phospholipid fatty acids of human plasma. J Lipid Res 1967;8:676–681.
  4. Stanford JL, King I, Kristal AR: Long-term storage of red blood cells and correlations between red cell and dietary fatty acids: results from a pilot study. Nutr Cancer 1991;16:183–188.
  5. Farquhar JW, Ahrens EH Jr: Effects of dietary fats on human erythrocyte fatty acid patterns. J Clin Invest 1963;42:675–685.
  6. Farquhar J, Ahrens E: Effects of dietary fats on human erythrocyte fatty acid patterns. J Clin Invest 1963;42:675–685.
  7. Glatz JF, Soffers AE, Katan MB: Fatty acid composition of serum cholesteryl esters and erythrocyte membranes as indicators of linoleic acid intake in man. Am J Clin Nutr 1989;49:269–276.
  8. Feunekes GI, Van Staveren WA, De Vries JH, Burema J, Hautvast JG: Relative and biomarker-based validity of a food-frequency questionnaire estimating intake of fats and cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr 1993;58:489–496.
  9. Godley PA, Campbell MK, Miller C, et al: Correlation between biomarkers of omega-3 fatty acid consumption and questionnaire data in African American and Caucasian United States males with and without prostatic carcinoma. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 1996;5:115–119.
  10. Brenner R: Endocrine control of fatty acid desaturation. Biochem Soc Trans 1990;18:773–775.
  11. Pala V, Krogh V, Muti P, et al: Erythrocyte membrane fatty acids and subsequent breast cancer: a prospective Italian study. J Natl Cancer Inst 2001;93:1088–1095.
  12. Salvini S, Parpinel M, Gnagnarella P, Maisonneuve P, Turrini A: Banca Dati di Composizione degli Alimenti per Studi Epidemiologici in Italia. Milano, 1998.
  13. Sieri S, Krogh V, Muti P, Micheli A, Pala V, Crosignani P, Berrino F: Fat and protein intake and subsequent breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. Nutr Cancer 2002;42: 10–17.
  14. Anonymous: The hypertension detection and follow-up program: Hypertension detection and follow-up program cooperative group. Prevent Med 1976;5:207–215.
  15. Bligh E, Dyer W: Rapid method of total lipid extraction and purification. Can J Biochem Physiol 1959;37:911–917.
  16. Feunekes G, Van Staveren W, De Vries J, Burema J, Hautvast J: Relative and biomarker based validity of a food frequency questionnaire estimating intake of fats and cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr 1993;58:489–496.
  17. Brenner RR: Endocrine control of fatty acid desaturation. Biochem Soc Trans 1990;18:773–775.
  18. Brenner RR: Hormonal modulation of delta6 and delta5 desaturases: case of diabetes. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2003;68:151–162.
  19. de Alaniz MJ, Marra CA: Steroid hormones and fatty acid desaturases. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2003;68:163–170.
  20. Bolton-Smith C, Woodward M, Tavendale R: Evidence for age-related differences in the fatty acid composition of human adipose tissue, independent of diet. Eur J Clin Nutr 1997;51:619–624.
  21. Miyazaki M, Ntambi JM: Role of stearoyl-coezyme A desaturase in lipid metabolism. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2003;68:113–121.
  22. Cazzola R, Rondanelli M, Russo-Volpe S, Ferrari E, Cestaro B: Decreased membrane fluidity and altered susceptibility to peroxidation and lipid composition in over-weight and obese female erythrocytes. J Lipid Res 2004;45:1846–1851.

Pay-per-View Options
Direct payment This item at the regular price: USD 38.00
Payment from account With a Karger Pay-per-View account (down payment USD 150) you profit from a special rate for this and other single items.
This item at the discounted price: USD 26.50