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Plasma and erythrocyte membrane phospholipids and fatty acids in Italian general population and hemodialysis patients

Mariarita Dessì1, Annalisa Noce2, Pierfrancesco Bertucci1, Gianluca Noce1, Stefano Rizza3, Alessandro De Stefano1, Simone Manca di Villahermosa2, Sergio Bernardini1, Antonino De Lorenzo4 and Nicola Di Daniele2*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory Medicine, “Tor Vergata” University Hospital, Viale Oxford 81, 00133 Rome, Italy

2 Department of System Medicine, Nephrology and Hypertension Unit, “Tor Vergata” University Hospital, Viale Oxford 81, 00133 Rome, Italy

3 Department of System Medicine, Center for Atherosclerosis “Tor Vergata” University Hospital, Viale Oxford 81, 00133 Rome, Italy

4 Department of Neurosciences, Division of Human Nutrition, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, I-00133 Rome, Italy

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2014, 13:54  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-54

Published: 21 March 2014



Dyslipidemia and abnormal phospholipid metabolism are frequent in uremic patients and increase their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD): ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) may reduce this risk in the general population. In this study we compared the plasma and erythrocyte cell membrane composition of PUFAs in a group of Caucasian hemodialysis (HD) patients and in a control group of healthy subjects and evaluated the erythrocyte/cell membrane fatty acid ratio as a marker of the dietary intake of phospholipids. The relationship between ω-3 and ω-6 fatty acids and the possible differences in PUFAs concentrations were also investigated.

Methods and results

After obtaining a fully informed consent, a total of ninety-nine HD patients and 160 non uremic control subjects from “Tor Vergata” University Hospital were enrolled into the study. None of them took antioxidant drugs or dietary supplements for at least 90 days prior to the observation. Blood samples were analysed by gas-chromatographic coupled to a mass spectrometric detector.

The daily intake of total calories, proteins, lipids and carbohydrates is significantly lower in HD patients than in controls (p < 0.001). Most plasma and erythrocyte PUFA were also reduced significantly in HD patients (p < 0.001).


Our results suggest that many classes of PUFAs are lacking in HD patients, due to the removal of nutrients during the dialysis and to persistent malnutrition. A dietary treatment addressed to increase plasma ω-3 PUFAs and to optimize ω-6/ω-3 ratio may exert a protective action and reduce the risk of CVD in HD patient.

Fatty acid; Lipid profile; Hemodialysis; ω6/ω3 ratio; Triglycerides