Essential Fatty Acids Test

Clinical Information

Essential fatty acids are integral component of cell membranes making them critical to proper cellular function and communication. Improper fat intake and impaired fat digestion, absorption, and/or metabolism may result to essential fatty acid deficiency.1

The Essential Fatty Acids Panel measures a wide array of omega acids (Omega-3, Omega-6, Omega-9, and saturated fatty acids) in relation to the total fatty acids. The ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 and Arachidonic Acid (AA) to Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) are included as inflammatory markers. EPA and AA are the key EFAs modulating inflammation. A high AA:EPA ratio indicates increased levels of inflammation in the body and has been detected in patients with insulin resistance, coronary artery disease and depression. Published data supports Omega-3 fatty acid levels as a modifiable risk factor for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.2

The analysis of fatty acids in red blood cells measures its 120-day lifespan in blood circulation. Unlike serum or plasma, this reveals the metabolic functions and dietary intake factors on a longer time scale that can be used as a biomarker for fatty acid metabolism, diet-disease correlation, and epidemiological studies.3

Clinical Use:

  • Evaluation of nutritional intake and essential fatty acids deficiency
  • Identifying fatty acid imbalance associated with immune and inflammatory conditions
  • Monitoring treatment of patients with impaired fat metabolism

Analytes Measured:

Essential Fatty Acids Panel in RBC
Omega-3 Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Eicosatrienoic acid
Total Omega 3
Omega-6 Linoleic acid (LA)
Gammalinolenic acid (GLA)
Eicosadienoic acid (EDA)
Dihomogammalinolenic acid (DGLA)
Arachidonic acid (AA)
Docosatetraenoic acid (DTA)
Total Omega 6
Omega-9 Trans-elaidic acid (TEA)
Cis oleic acid
Eicosenoic acid
Erucic acid
Nervonic acid
Total Omega 9
Saturated Fats Palmitic Acid
Stearic acid
Ratio AA/EPA

Specimen Needed: 6 ml blood, 3 ml packed RBC in EDTA-heparin vacutainer tubes

Turn Around Time of Results: 7 Working days

Analytical Method: Gas Chromatography

1 Kris M. Mogensen., Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency, Practical Gastroenterology, June 2017, pp 37-44
2 A.P. Simopoulos., The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids, Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy 56 (2002) 365–379, June 2002
3 Rodrigues, R.O., Costa, H., Lima, R., & Amaral, J.S. “Simple Methodology for the Quantitative Analysis of Fatty Acids in Human Red Blood Cells.” Chromatographia 78, no. 19-20 (2015)