Lipids in Health and Disease

, 12:79

First online:

Relationship between central and peripheral fatty acids in humans

  • Jade GuestAffiliated withSchool of Medical Sciences, University of New South WalesAustralasian Research Institute, Sydney Adventist Hospital
  • , Manohar GargAffiliated withNutraceuticals Research Group, School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy, University of Newcastle
  • , Ayse BilginAffiliated withDepartment of Statistics, Macquarie University
  • , Ross GrantAffiliated withSchool of Medical Sciences, University of New South WalesAustralasian Research Institute, Sydney Adventist HospitalSydney Adventist Hospital Clinical School, University of Sydney Email author 

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In recent years the physiological and pathological importance of fatty acids in both the periphery and central nervous system (CNS) has become increasingly apparent. However surprisingly limited research has been conducted comparing the fatty acid composition of central and peripheral lipid stores.


The present study compared the distribution of polyunsaturated (PUFA), as well as specific saturated (SFA) and monounsaturated (MUFA) fatty acids in the whole blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of humans. Gas chromatography with flame ionization detection was used to determine the fatty acid profiles of twenty-eight matched CSF and whole blood samples. Multiple linear regression modeling, controlling for age, was used to identify significant relationships.


A significant positive relationship was seen between whole blood total omega-3 fatty acids and the CSF omega-3 subfractions, docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) (P = 0.019) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (P = 0.015). A direct association was also observed between the whole blood and CSF omega-6 PUFA, arachidonic acid (AA) (P = 0.045). Interestingly an inverse association between central and peripheral oleic acid was also found (P = 0.045).


These findings indicate a relationship between central and peripheral fatty acids of varying degrees of unsaturation and chain length and support the view that some systemic fatty acids are likely to cross the human blood brain barrier (BBB) and thereby influence central fatty acid concentrations.


Fatty acids Polyunsaturated fatty acids Brain Whole blood Cerebrospinal fluid Blood brain barrier Omega-3 Omega-6