Individual fatty acids in erythrocyte membranes are associated with several features of the metabolic syndrome in obese children

  • Sara Bonafini
  • Angela Tagetti
  • Rossella Gaudino
  • Paolo Cavarzere
  • Martina Montagnana
  • Elisa Danese
  • Marco Benati
  • Diego Alberto Ramaroli
  • Sara Raimondi
  • Alice Giontella
  • Anna Mantovani
  • Angela Donato
  • Andrea Dalbeni
  • Pietro Minuz
  • Franco Antoniazzi
  • Claudio Maffeis
  • Cristiano Fava
Original Contribution



Obesity leads to the clustering of cardiovascular (CV) risk factors and the metabolic syndrome (MetS) also in children and is often accompanied by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Quality of dietary fat, beyond the quantity, can influence CV risk profile and, in particular, omega-3 fatty acids (FA) have been proposed as beneficial in this setting. The aim of the study was to evaluate the associations of individual CV risk factors, characterizing the MetS, with erythrocyte membrane FA, markers of average intake, in a group of 70 overweight/obese children.


We conducted an observational study. Erythrocyte membrane FA were measured by gas chromatography. Spearman correlation coefficients (rS) were calculated to evaluate associations between FA and features of the MetS.


Mean content of Omega-3 FA was low (Omega-3 Index = 4.7 ± 0.8%). Not omega-3 FA but some omega-6 FA, especially arachidonic acid (AA), were inversely associated with several features of the MetS: AA resulted inversely correlated with waist circumference (rS = − 0.352), triglycerides (rS = − 0.379), fasting insulin (rS = − 0.337) and 24-h SBP (rS = − 0.313). Total amount of saturated FA (SFA) and specifically palmitic acid, correlated positively with waist circumference (rS = 0.354), triglycerides (rS = 0.400) and fasting insulin (rS = 0.287). Fatty Liver Index (FLI), a predictive score of steatosis based on GGT, triglycerides and anthropometric indexes, was positively correlated to palmitic acid (rS = 0.515) and inversely to AA (rS = − 0.472).


Our data suggest that omega-6 FA, and especially AA, could be protective toward CV risk factors featuring the MetS and also to indexes of hepatic steatosis in obese children, whereas SFA seems to exert opposite effects.


Omega-6 fatty acids Saturated fatty acids Arachidonic acid Palmitic acid Metabolic syndrome Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease Children 



Arachidonic acid


Alpha-linoleic acid


Alanine aminotransferase


Aspartate aminotransferase


Blood pressure




Delta-5 desaturase


Delta-6 desaturase


Diastolic blood pressure


Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid


Docosahexaenoic acid


Eicosapentaenoic acid


Fatty acid


Fatty Liver Index




Gamma-linolenic acid


Linoleic acid


Metabolic syndrome


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease


Office diastolic blood pressure


Office systolic blood pressure


Palmitic acid


Randomized controlled trial


Systolic blood pressure


Delta-9 desaturase


Saturated fatty acid





Part of this work was performed in the LURM (Laboratorio Universitario di Ricerca Medica) Research Center, University of Verona.


The study is supported by a Grant of the Italian Ministry of Health (GR-2011-02349630) to CF in agreement with the ‘Regione Veneto’ and the ‘Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata di Verona’.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that they have no competing interest.

Supplementary material

394_2018_1677_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (120 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 120 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Bonafini
    • 1
  • Angela Tagetti
    • 1
  • Rossella Gaudino
    • 2
  • Paolo Cavarzere
    • 2
  • Martina Montagnana
    • 3
  • Elisa Danese
    • 3
  • Marco Benati
    • 3
  • Diego Alberto Ramaroli
    • 2
  • Sara Raimondi
    • 1
  • Alice Giontella
    • 1
  • Anna Mantovani
    • 1
  • Angela Donato
    • 1
  • Andrea Dalbeni
    • 1
  • Pietro Minuz
    • 1
  • Franco Antoniazzi
    • 2
  • Claudio Maffeis
    • 2
  • Cristiano Fava
    • 1
  1. 1.“General Medicine and Hypertension” Unit, Department of MedicineAOUI, Hospital “Policlinico G.B. Rossi”, University of VeronaVeronaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Surgery, Dentistry, Paediatrics and GynaecologyUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine and Movement ScienceUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly

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