Lipidomics: Revealing Biomarkers of the Omega-3 Index

Omega-3 fatty acids and assessment

Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in supporting various bodily functions, including brain health, heart function, and reducing inflammation. They are considered essential as the body cannot produce them on its own, necessitating their intake through dietary sources or supplements to maintain optimal health and well-being.

Traditional methods for assessing omega-3 fatty acids in the blood are invasive and analytically complex, requiring large blood draws. The new analysis, developed by Dr. Philip Britz-McKibbin and his team, simplifies this process, making it more accessible and less cumbersome, which may facilitate screening applications for precision health and personalized medicine.

New Lipidomics Methodology and Biomarkers

This method identifies two specific biomarkers: EPA and DHA, in blood samples to rapidly assess the Omega-3 Index (O3I) by a high-throughput method for untargeted and targeted lipidomics of serum/plasma ether extracts based on multisegment injection-non-aqueous capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry. In the study, participants received daily supplements of fish oil, EPA, or DHA, ranging from 3 to 5 grams. The researchers conducted detailed lipid profiling to identify O3I biomarkers from the numerous lipids circulating in the bloodstream.

This method enables the rapid assessment of the O3I by directly measuring two circulating PC species in small volumes of blood. This advancement simplifies the process, allowing for routine blood tests without the need for extensive sample preparation, making it easier to track omega-3 fatty acid nutrition.

Read our other article: Lipidomics for studying metabolism

Why omega-3 fatty acids are important

Omega-3 fatty acids, pivotal for reducing the risk of cardiovascular events, are also linked to decreasing inflammation, cognitive impairment, depression, and other health issues. The O3I is a critical measure, with levels below 4% indicating higher cardiovascular risk, while levels above 8% suggest a lower risk.

Journal of Lipid Research

This research was featured in the Journal of Lipid Research and includes contributions from Stuart Phillips, a kinesiology professor at McMaster University, and David Mutch, a professor of human health and nutrition at the University of Guelph.

Future direction

The researchers plan to develop a more convenient and non-invasive assessment of O3I with urine-based testing, potentially eliminating the need for blood draws entirely. Further research is needed to confirm these results in a larger group of people as EPA and DHA levels in the bloodstream can be influenced by diet and are linked to longevity and vascular health. This research is crucial for advising personalized dietary and lifestyle changes based on evidence for better individual health outcomes.

Summarized by Juan Darius

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