Plasma fatty acid patterns reflect dietary habits and metabolic health A cross-sectional study

Kaifeng Li, Lorraine Brennan, Breige A McNulty, Jack F Bloomfield, Dan J Duff, Niamh F C Devlin, Michael J Gibney, Albert Flynn, Janette Walton, Anne P Nugent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


SCOPE: Using pattern analysis, we investigated the relationship between plasma fatty acid patterns, dietary intake, and biomarkers of metabolic health using data from the Irish National Adult Nutrition Survey.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Plasma fatty acid patterns were derived from 26 plasma fatty acids using k-means cluster analysis. Four clusters were identified, each with a distinct fatty acid profile. Cluster 1 included high proportions of linoleic acid (LA) and low proportions of stearic acid (SA); cluster 2 was higher in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and SA; the profile of cluster 3 was higher in very-long-chain saturated fatty acid (VLCSFA) and lower in α-linolenic acid (ALA) (cluster 3); while cluster 4 was higher in fatty acids related to de novo lipogenesis and 20:3n-6 and lower in LA (cluster 4). In general, cluster 4 was associated with adverse metabolic profile and higher metabolic risk (p < 0.033). Clusters 2 and 3 were associated with healthier and protective phenotypes (p < 0.033).

CONCLUSION: Distinct fatty acid patterns were identified which were related to demographics, dietary habits, and metabolic profile. A pattern higher in VLCSFA and lower in ALA was associated with healthier metabolic outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2043-52
JournalMolecular Nutrition & Food Research
Issue number9
Early online date29 Mar 2016
Publication statusEarly online date - 29 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Energy Intake
  • Fatty Acids
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Dive into the research topics of 'Plasma fatty acid patterns reflect dietary habits and metabolic health A cross-sectional study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this