Principal research

The development of advanced fatty acid and lipid analytical methodologies

Our laboratory developed high throughput fatty acid analyses through the adaptation of fast gas chromatography, and the development of fingertip prick blood sampling with a one-step direct chemical derivitization process. Recently, our development focus has shifted towards “lipidomic” analyses using liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Lipidomics allows for the identification of lipid molecules in their native form and provides more information (over 600 individual lipids as compared to 30-60 fatty acids). Our initial development is a method for dried blood spot analyses with the intention to apply lipidomics to clinical studies to identify biomarkers of dietary intake and health and disease.

The effect of sex and pregnancy on polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism

We confirmed that women tend to have higher levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in their blood as compared with men and we have examined the sex differences in fatty acid metabolism in rat models. Recently, in a pregnant rat model, we have observed that preferential incorporation of DHA into complex lipids such as phosphatidylcholine also appears to be involved in the phenomenon.

Dietary forensics

The fatty acid and lipidomic profile of human blood contains significant dietary and metabolic information. Using large data sets we have developed: 1) equations that define the relationship between dietary intake and blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); 2) translation tools that convert fatty acid measures in plasma and whole blood to erythrocyte equivalents, and; 3) recent versus long-term biomarkers of dietary EPA and DHA intake.