Calculation of serum "total lipid" concentrations for the adjustment of persistent organohalogen toxicant measurements in human samples

John T. Bernert, Wayman E. Turner, Donald G. Patterson, Larry L. Needham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

204 Scopus citations


Persistent organohalogen toxicants such as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin or polychlorinated biphenyls measured in human serum are often expressed on a lipid weight basis, most commonly by dividing the toxicants' concentration by the weight of total lipids in the sample. Therefore, the manner in which this lipid adjustment is calculated may influence the final reported result. Gravimetric total lipid assays have been used, but they are time-consuming and sometimes may be ill-defined. Consequently, alternative methods using enzymatic assays have been developed based on summing the individual lipid species measured. Recent reports, however, have suggested that significantly different total lipid results may be obtained when using alternative formulae in a summation approach. In this report, we summarize the results obtained from lipid measurements of nearly 900 samples made as part of a study of a group of older American men (mean age 62 years), and we compare our total lipid estimates obtained by using both our standard and "short" formula (the latter based on total cholesterol and triglycerides only) with results obtained using the recently proposed alternative formulae. Our findings indicate that both our long and short formulae provide similar estimates of serum total lipid concentrations, and that differences observed in lipid estimates when using the newer alternative summation methods may reflect differences in how the term "total lipid" is defined, especially with regard to the need to include the contribution of the weight of the cholesterol ester fatty acids in the calculation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)824-831
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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