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Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 1984 Jun;44(4):283-9.

Changes in fatty acid composition of major glycerophospholipids in erythrocyte membranes from chronic alcoholics during withdrawal.


Low-degree haemolysis, seen in alcoholics after debauche, may originate from abnormal lipid and fatty acid composition of the erythrocyte membranes. This hypothesis was tested on 13 chronic alcoholics without signs of severe liver disease after an abuse period of more than 7 days. Erythrocytes were analysed at admittance and during withdrawal after 1 and 2 weeks. In order to evaluate the usefulness of whole erythrocytes instead of purified plasma membranes for these analyses a comparison was made. No differences were found with regard to the fatty acid patterns. Reference values of the fatty acid composition of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine from erythrocytes were also established in control persons. The fatty acid composition of both phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine in the erythrocytes was significantly different from controls at admission. Polyunsaturated fatty acids were decreased and saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids were increased. In phosphatidylcholine, the proportions of the fatty acids of the linoleic acid series were 24% decreased at admittance and 2 weeks later still 19% lower than in controls. The abnormal fatty acid patterns of erythrocytes correlated with similar aberrations in blood plasma phospholipids at admittance. The pathological levels of fatty acids in erythrocytes normalized slower in erythrocytes than in plasma. We conclude that the abnormal fatty acid composition is induced during erythropoiesis.

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