Red blood cell fatty acid patterns from 7 countries

Focus on the Omega-3 index

authored by
Jan Philipp Schuchardt, Marianna Cerrato, Martina Ceseri, Laura F DeFina, Graciela E Delgado, Sandra Gellert, Andreas Hahn, Barbara V Howard, Aya Kadota, Marcus E Kleber, Roberto Latini, Winfried Maerz, JoAnn E Manson, Samia Mora, Yongsoon Park, Aleix Sala-Vila, Clemens von Schacky, Akira Sekikawa, Nathan Tintle, Katherine L Tucker, Ramachandran S Vasan, William S Harris

Red blood cell (RBC) fatty acid (FA) patterns are becoming recognized as long-term biomarkers of tissue FA composition, but different analytical methods have complicated inter-study and international comparisons. Here we report RBC FA data, with a focus on the Omega-3 Index (EPA + DHA in% of total FAs in RBC), from samples of seven countries (USA, Canada, Italy, Spain, Germany, South Korea, and Japan) including 167,347 individuals (93% of all samples were from the US). FA data were generated by a uniform methodology from a variety of interventional and observational studies and from clinical laboratories. The cohorts differed in size, demographics, health status, and year of collection. Only the Canadian cohort was a formal, representative population-based survey. The mean Omega-3 Index of each country was categorized as desirable (>8%), moderate (>6% to 8%), low (>4% to 6%), or very low (≤4%). Only cohorts from Alaska (treated separately from the US), South Korea and Japan showed a desirable Omega-3 Index. The Spanish cohort had a moderate Omega-3 Index, while cohorts from the US, Canada, Italy, and Germany were all classified as low. This study is limited by the use of cohorts of convenience and small sample sizes in some countries. Countries undertaking national health status studies should utilize a uniform method to measure Omega-3 FA levels.

Institute of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Nutrition Physiology and Human Nutrition Section
External Organisation(s)
Institute of Pharmacological Research Mario Negri IRCCS
The Cooper Institute
Heidelberg University
MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI)
Shiga University of Medical Science
Harvard University
Hanyang University
Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI)
Omegametrix GmbH
University of Pittsburgh
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Massachusetts Lowell
Boston University (BU)
South Dakota State University
The Fatty Acid Research Institute, Sioux Falls, SD, USA
Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Clinical Biochemistry, Cell Biology
Electronic version(s) (Access: Open)