Fatty acid composition of cholesterol esters reflects dietary fat intake after dietary interventions in a multinational population

Publication Name

Journal of Clinical Lipidology


Background: The effects of different dietary fatty acids (FA) on cardiovascular risk still needs clarification. Plasma lipids composition may be a biomarker of FA dietary intake. Purpose: To evaluate in a composite population the relationships between changes in dietary fat intake and changes in FA levels in serum cholesterol esters. Methods: In a multinational, parallel-design, dietary intervention (KANWU study), dietary intakes (3-day food record) and FA composition of serum cholesterol esters (gas-liquid chromatography) were evaluated at baseline and after 3 months in 162 healthy individuals, randomly assigned to a diet containing a high proportion of saturated (SFA) or monounsaturated (MUFA) fat, with a second random assignment to fish oil or placebo supplements. Results: Main differences in serum lipid composition after the two diets included saturated (especially myristic, C14:0, and pentadecanoic, C15:0) and monounsaturated (oleic acid, C18:1 n-9) FA. C14:0 and C15:0 were related to SFA intake, while C18:1 n-9 was associated with MUFA intake. Fish oil supplementation induced a marked increase in eicosapentaenoic (C20:5 n-3) and docosahexaenoic (C22:6 n-3) acids. After the 3-month intervention, Δ-9 desaturase activity, calculated as palmitoleic acid/palmitic acid (C16:1/C16:0) ratio, was more reduced after the MUFA (0.31±0.10 vs 0.25±0.09, p<0.0001) than SFA diet (0.31±0.09 vs 0.29±0.08, p=0.006), with a statistically significant difference between the two groups (p<0.0001). Conclusions: This study shows that serum cholesterol ester FA composition can be used during randomized controlled trials as an objective indicator of adherence to experimental diets based on saturated and monounsaturated fat modifications, as well as fish oil supplementation.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Sponsor

Sundhed og Sygdom, Det Frie Forskningsråd



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