BACKGROUND: Estimation of the intake of oily fish at a population level is difficult. The measurement of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in biological samples may provide a useful biomarker of intake. OBJECTIVE: We identified the most appropriate biomarkers for the assessment of habitual oily fish intake and changes in intake by elucidating the dose- and time-dependent response of EPA and DHA incorporation into various biological samples that represent roles in fatty acid transport, function, and storage. DESIGN: This was a double-blind, randomized, controlled intervention trial in 204 men and women that lasted 12 mo. EPA and DHA capsules were provided in a manner to reflect sporadic consumption of oily fish (ie, 1, 2, or 4 times/wk). EPA and DHA were assessed at 9 time points over 12 mo in 9 sample types (red blood cells, mononuclear cells, platelets, buccal cells, adipose tissue, plasma phosphatidylcholine, triglycerides, cholesteryl esters, and nonesterified fatty acids). RESULTS: A dose response (P < 0.05) was observed for EPA and DHA in all pools except for red blood cell EPA (P = 0.057). EPA and DHA measures in plasma phosphatidylcholine and platelets were best for the discrimination between different intakes (P < 0.0001). The rate of incorporation varied between sample types, with the time to maximal incorporation ranging from days (plasma phosphatidylcholine) to months (mononuclear cells) to >12 mo (adipose tissue). CONCLUSIONS: Plasma phosphatidylcholine EPA plus DHA was identified as the most suitable biomarker of acute changes in EPA and DHA intake, and platelet and mononuclear cell EPA plus DHA were the most suitable biomarkers of habitual intake.

Original publication

DOI

10.3945/ajcn.112.041343

Type

Journal article

Journal

Am J Clin Nutr

Publication Date

10/2012

Volume

96

Pages

748 - 758

Keywords

Adult, Aged, Animals, Biomarkers, Blood Platelets, Diet, Dietary Supplements, Docosahexaenoic Acids, Double-Blind Method, Eicosapentaenoic Acid, Female, Fishes, Humans, Leukocytes, Mononuclear, Lipid Metabolism, Male, Middle Aged, Nutrition Assessment, Phosphatidylcholines, Seafood, United Kingdom, Young Adult