It is essential to measure lipid biomarkers with a high reproducibility to prevent biased results. We compared the lipid composition and inter-day reproducibility of lipid measurements in plasma and erythrocytes. Samples from 42 individuals (77% women, mean age 65 years, mean body mass index (BMI) 27 kg/m2), obtained non-fasted at baseline and after 6 weeks, were used for quantification of up to 1000 lipid species across 13 lipid classes with the Lipidyzer platform. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were calculated to investigate the variability of lipid concentrations between timepoints. The ICC distribution of lipids in plasma and erythrocytes were compared using Wilcoxon tests. After data processing, the analyses included 630 lipids in plasma and 286 in erythrocytes. From these, 230 lipids overlapped between sample types. In plasma, 78% of lipid measurements were reproduced well to excellently, compared to 37% in erythrocytes. The ICC score distribution in plasma (median ICC 0.69) was significantly better than in erythrocytes (median ICC 0.51) (p-value < 0.001). At the class level, reproducibility in plasma was superior for triacylglycerols and cholesteryl esters while ceramides, diacylglycerols, (lyso)phosphatidylethanolamines, and sphingomyelins showed better reproducibility in erythrocytes. Although in plasma overall reproducibility was superior, differences at individual and class levels may favor the use of erythrocytes.
Keywords: erythrocytes; lipids; metabolomics; plasma; reproducibility.