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© 2015 The Authors. Adipose tissue (AT) fatty acid (FA) composition partly reflects habitual dietary intake. Circulating NEFA are mobilised from AT and might act as a minimally invasive surrogate marker of AT FA profile. Agreement between twenty-eight FA in AT and plasma NEFA was assessed using concordance coefficients in 204 male and female participants in a 12-month intervention using supplements to increase the intake of EPA and DHA. Concordance coefficients generally showed very poor agreement between AT FA and plasma NEFA at baseline SFA: 0·07; MUFA: 0·03; n-6 PUFA: 0·28; n-3 PUFA: 0·01). Participants were randomly divided into training (70 %) and validation (30 %) data sets, and models to predict AT and dietary FA were fitted using data from the training set, and their predictive ability was assessed using data from the validation set. AT n-6 PUFA and SFA were predicted from plasma NEFA with moderate accuracy (mean absolute percentage error n-6 PUFA: 11 % and SFA: 8 %), but predicted values were unable to distinguish between low, medium and high FA values, with only 25 % of n-6 PUFA and 33 % of SFA predicted values correctly assigned to the appropriate tertile group. Despite an association between AT and plasma NEFA EPA (P=0·001) and DHA (P=0·01) at baseline, there was no association after the intervention. To conclude, plasma NEFA are not a suitable surrogate for AT FA.

Original publication




Journal article


British Journal of Nutrition

Publication Date





756 - 762