Red blood cell fatty acid ethyl esters: A significant component of fatty acid ethyl esters in the blood

Catherine A. Best, Joanne E. Cluette-Brown, Miho Teruya, Ami Teruya, Michael Laposata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations


Although alcohol abuse is known to cause an array of ethanol-induced red blood cell (RBC) abnormalities, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. Fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs) are toxic, nonoxidative ethanol metabolites that have been found in blood, plasma, and tissues. Because FAEEs have been shown to be incorporated into phospholipid bilayers, we conducted a controlled ethanol intake study to test the hypothesis that FAEEs accumulate and persist within RBCs following ethanol ingestion. We demonstrated that RBC FAEEs account for approximately 5% to 20% of total whole-blood FAEEs, and that the fatty acid composition of FAEEs in RBCs and plasma are different and vary differently over time. These data indicate that a significant percentage of FAEEs in the blood is associated with RBCs and that the metabolism of RBC FAEEs and that of plasma FAEEs (bound to albumin or lipoproteins) are largely independent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)612-620
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003



  • Addiction
  • Alcohol
  • Alcohol monitoring
  • Alcoholism
  • Ethanol
  • Red blood cell membranes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology

Cite this