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Genome Med. 2013 Apr 25;5(4):39. doi: 10.1186/gm443. eCollection 2013.

Development and validation of a robust automated analysis of plasma phospholipid fatty acids for metabolic phenotyping of large epidemiological studies.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, 120 Fulbourn Road, Cambridge, CB1 9NL, UK.
  • 2MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Box 285, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ UK.


A fully automated, high-throughput method was developed to profile the fatty acids of phospholipids from human plasma samples for application to a large epidemiological sample set (n > 25,000). We report here on the data obtained for the quality-control materials used with the first 860 batches, and the validation process used. The method consists of two robotic systems combined with gas chromatography, performing lipid extraction, phospholipid isolation, hydrolysis and derivatization to fatty-acid methyl esters, and on-line analysis. This is the first report showing that fatty-acid profiling is an achievable strategy for metabolic phenotyping in very large epidemiological and genetic studies.

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