We discuss the concept that the two essential (not produced by the body and obtained exclusively through the diet) polyunsaturated fatty acid families-n-6 and n-3-may play a role in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance through inflammatory pathways.

Linoleic acid, the major n-6 fatty acid, is metabolized into pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid, which, in turn, gives rise to leukotrienes and protaglandins.

N-3 fatty acids, found in plants and in fish, reduce the levels of arachidonic acid, thereby lowering inflammatory mediator concentrations and increasing insulin sensitization. We discuss these findings and their implications for insulin resistance and their possible effect on coronary heart disease.