Biological variability of blood omega-3 biomarkers

William S. Harris, Rachael M. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Objectives: We conducted a pilot study to estimate the biological variability and effects of a prior meal on the omega-3 fatty acid (FA) content of 3 blood FA pools. Design and methods: We measured FA levels in red blood cells (RBCs), plasma and plasma phospholipids (PL) obtained from 20 healthy volunteers tested weekly over 6 weeks. Results: The within-subject coefficients of variation were 4.1% ± 1.9%, 15.9% ± 6.4%, and 14.5% ± 8.4%, respectively (RBC vs. others, p < 0.001). RBC omega-3 FA content had the lowest biological variability and was not altered in the fed state. Conclusions: From the perspective of variability and of the sample types tested, RBCs may be the preferred sample type for assessing omega-3 FA status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-340
Number of pages3
JournalClinical Biochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarker
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Erythrocytes
  • Plasma
  • Plasma phospholipids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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