Changes in relative and absolute concentrations of plasma phospholipid fatty acids observed in a randomized trial of Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in Uganda

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2016 Nov;114:11-16. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2016.09.002. Epub 2016 Sep 30.


Expressing circulating phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) in relative concentrations has some limitations: the total of all fatty acids are summed to 100%; therefore, the values of individual fatty acid are not independent. In this study we examined if both relative and absolute metrics could effectively measure changes in circulating PLFA concentrations in an intervention trial. 66 HIV and HHV8 infected patients in Uganda were randomized to take 3g/d of either long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (1856mg EPA and 1232mg DHA) or high-oleic safflower oil in a 12-week double-blind trial. Plasma samples were collected at baseline and end of trial. Relative weight percentage and absolute concentrations of 41 plasma PLFAs were measured using gas chromatography. Total cholesterol was also measured. Intervention-effect changes in concentrations were calculated as differences between end of 12-week trial and baseline. Pearson correlations of relative and absolute concentration changes in individual PLFAs were high (>0.6) for 37 of the 41 PLFAs analyzed. In the intervention arm, 17 PLFAs changed significantly in relative concentration and 16 in absolute concentration, 15 of which were identical. Absolute concentration of total PLFAs decreased 95.1mg/L (95% CI: 26.0, 164.2; P=0.0085), but total cholesterol did not change significantly in the intervention arm. No significant change was observed in any of the measurements in the placebo arm. Both relative weight percentage and absolute concentrations could effectively measure changes in plasma PLFA concentrations. EPA and DHA supplementation changes the concentrations of multiple plasma PLFAs besides EPA and DHA.Both relative weight percentage and absolute concentrations could effectively measure changes in plasma phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) concentrations.

Keywords: Absolute concentration; DHA; EPA; Phospholipid fatty acid; Relative concentration; Weight percentage concentration.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Acids / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phospholipids / blood*
  • Safflower Oil / administration & dosage*
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / blood*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uganda


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Phospholipids
  • Safflower Oil
  • Cholesterol