Fish oil improves several features of metabolic syndrome (MetS), such as dyslipidemia, insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis. Fish oil may mediate some of its beneficial effects by modulating the storage and/or secretory functions of adipose tissue (AT). The storage of triglycerides in AT is regulated by the availability of free fatty acids and the degree of lipolysis in AT.

Fish oil has been shown to reduce lipolysis in several studies, indicating improved triglyceride storage. Importantly, AT secretes a variety of adipokines and fish oil feeding is associated with remarkable changes in the plasma levels of two key adipokines, adiponectin and leptin. Much attention has been focused on the contribution of adiponectin in fish oil-mediated improvements in MetS. However, emerging evidence also indicates a role of leptin in modulating the components of the MetS upon fish oil feeding.

In addition to improving the storage and secretory functions of AT, fish oil, and the n-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, has been shown to reduce inflammation in AT. These effects may be in part a result of activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ or inhibition of Toll-like receptor 4. Thus, there is compelling evidence that fish oil mediates its beneficial effects on MetS by improving AT storage and secretory functions and by reducing inflammation.