Impact of treatment with RUTF on plasma lipid profiles of severely malnourished Pakistani children

Document Type



Women and Child Health


Background: Little is known on impacts of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) treatment on lipid metabolism in children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM).
Methods: We analyzed glycerophospholipid fatty acids (FA) and polar lipids in plasma of 41 Pakistani children with SAM before and after 3 months of RUTF treatment using gas chromatography and flow-injection analysis tandem mass spectrometry, respectively. Statistical analysis was performed using univariate, multivariate tests and evaluated for the impact of age, sex, breastfeeding status, hemoglobin, and anthropometry.
Results: Essential fatty acid (EFA) depletion at baseline was corrected by RUTF treatment which increased EFA. In addition, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) and the ratio of arachidonic acid (AA)/linoleic acid increased reflecting greater EFA conversion to LC-PUFA, whereas Mead acid/AA decreased. Among phospholipids, lysophosphatidylcholines (lyso.PC) were most impacted by treatment; in particular, saturated lyso.PC decreased. Higher child age and breastfeeding were associated with great decrease in total saturated FA (ΣSFA) and lesser decrease in monounsaturated FA and total phosphatidylcholines (ΣPC).
Conclusions: RUTF treatment improves EFA deficiency in SAM, appears to enhance EFA conversion to biologically active LC-PUFA, and reduces lipolysis reflected in decreased ΣSFA and saturated lyso.PC. Child age and breastfeeding modify treatment-induced changes in ΣSFA and ΣPC.


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