Dietary long-chain fatty acids and carbohydrate biomarker evaluation in a controlled feeding study in participants from the Women's Health Initiative cohort.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


The American journal of clinical nutrition (2017)


Background: Biomarkers of macronutrient intake are lacking. Controlled human feeding studies that preserve the normal variation in nutrient and food consumption are necessary for the development and validation of robust nutritional biomarkers.Objective: We aimed to assess the utility of serum phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) as biomarkers of dietary intakes of fatty acids, total fat, and carbohydrate.Design: We used an individualized controlled feeding study in which 153 postmenopausal women from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) were provided with a 2-wk controlled diet that mimicked each individual's habitual food intake. A total of 41 PLFAs were measured with the use of gas chromatography in end-of-feeding-period fasting serum samples and expressed in both relative and absolute concentrations. R(2) values (percentages of variation explained) from linear regressions of (ln-transformed) consumed fatty acids (individual, groups, and broad categories) on (ln-transformed) corresponding measures of serum PLFAs alone and together with selected participant-related variables (age, race/ethnicity, body mass index, season of study participation, education level, and estimated energy intake from doubly labeled water) were used for evaluation against established urinary recovery biomarkers of energy and protein intake as benchmarks. Models to predict intakes of other nutrients were also explored.Results: Intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid achieved the benchmark of R(2) > 36% with or without covariates. When all 41 serum PLFAs and participant-related covariates were initially included in the model for selection, cross-validated R(2) achieved >36% for consumed total carbohydrate (grams per day), total saturated fatty acids (SFAs), percentage of energy from SFAs, and total trans fatty acids with serum PLFAs in both relative and absolute concentrations.Conclusions: Serum PLFA biomarkers perform similarly to established energy and protein urinary recovery biomarkers in describing intake variations for several nutrients and, thus, appear suitable for application in this population of postmenopausal women. This approach represents an important methodologic contribution toward the utilization of nutritional biomarkers to assess macronutrient intake. This trial was registered at as NCT00000611.