Free fatty acids (non-esterified fatty acids, NEFA


Free fatty acids (non-esterified fatty acids, NEFA)


Chemical Pathology - Routine Laboratory

Clinical indications

Non esterified fatty acids (free fatty acids, NEFA) are released from adipose tissue in response to starvation and are broken down in the liver to form ketone bodies. Ketone bodies enter the circulation where they provide a carbon and energy source to tissues in place of glucose. These events are inhibited by high levels of insulin and facilitated by low levels of insulin and raised catecholamines. β OH butyrate (BOHB) is one of the principle circulating products of fatty acid oxidation by the liver. Its concentration rises when free fatty acid oxidation increases during fasting while insulin inhibits its production. Serial measurements of BOHB in conjunction with NEFA, glucose and insulin during a fast assist in the diagnosis of causes of hypoglycaemia

Specimen requirement

0.3ml Lithium Heparin plasma

Dispatch and handling instructions

Separate and freeze plasma / serum immediately after collection. Send frozen. Provide glucose result for interpretation

Turnaround time

1 to 2 weeks



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