High variability in erythrocyte, plasma and whole blood EPA and DHA levels in response to supplementation

Cassandra Sparkes, Andrew J. Sinclair, Robert A. Gibson, Paul L. Else, Barbara J. Meyer

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13 Citations (Scopus)


(1) Aim: the aim of this secondary analysis was to report the variability in response to n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) supplementation in erythrocytes, plasma and whole blood of a previously published dose response study. (2) Methods: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of parallel design was conducted, whereby pre-menopausal women were randomly assigned to consume 0, 0.35, 0.7 or 1 g/day of supplemental eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Fasted blood samples were taken at baseline and after eight weeks intervention. Erythrocyte, plasma and whole blood fatty acids were extracted using the method of Lepage and Roy and analysed using gas chromatography. (3) Results: There were significant increases in EPA plus DHA levels in the 0.7 g and 1 g dose groups, with the highest increase with the 1 g dose notably: in erythrocytes (from 5.69% to 7.59%), plasma (from 2.94% to 5.48%) and in whole blood (from 3.81% to 6.03%). There was high variability in response to the supplement in erythrocytes, plasma and whole blood across the different doses. (4) Conclusion: there is high individual variability in n-3 LCPUFA levels in response to n-3 LCPUFA supplementation, which should be taken into account in clinical trials using n-3 LCPUFA supplements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1017
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Erythrocyte
  • Omega-3
  • Plasma
  • Variability
  • Whole blood

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