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Phase angle correlates with n-3 fatty acids and cholesterol in red cells of Nigerian children with sickle cell disease

Dorothy J VanderJagt1, Miguel R Trujillo1, Fidelia Bode-Thomas2, Yung-Sheng Huang, Lu-Te Chuang3 and Robert H Glew1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology University of New Mexico, School of Medicine Albuquerque, NM, USA

2 Department of Paediatrics Jos University Teaching Hospital Jos, Nigeria

3 Ross Products Division Abbott Laboratories Columbus, OH, USA

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2003, 2:2  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-2-2

Published: 6 May 2003



To determine the cholesterol content and fatty acid composition of red cell membrane phospholipids (PL) of children with sickle cell disease (SCD) and to correlate these levels with whole body phase angle that is related to the integrity and function of cell membranes.

Study design

Blood samples were obtained from 69 children with SCD and 72 healthy age- and gender-matched controls in Nigeria for the determination of the cholesterol content and proportions of fatty acids in red cell PL. Bioelectrical impedance analysis was used to obtain resistance (R) and reactance (Xc) from which phase angle was calculated as arctan Xc/R. Cholesterol (normalized to lipid phosphorus) and the proportions of individual fatty acids were correlated with phase angle.


The proportions of palmitic (p < 0.001), stearic acid (p = 0.003) and cholesterol (p < 0.001) were significantly higher in the red cells of children with SCD, whereas the proportions of arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid were reduced (p = 0.03 and < 0.001, respectively) compared to controls. The phase angle was inversely correlated with the proportions of palmitic acid (p = 0.03) and oleic acid (p < 0.001) and cholesterol (p = 0.003). Three n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids-eicosapentaenoic acid, docosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid- were positively correlated with phase angle (p < 0.001).


The fatty acid composition and cholesterol content of tissue membranes in SCD correlate with the phase shift measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis. Phase angle measurements may provide a non-invasive method for monitoring interventions aimed at altering the lipid composition of membranes.

phase angle; sickle cell disease; fatty acids; cholesterol; red cells; Nigeria