BACKGROUND: Information is lacking on the potential effect of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on the adipose tissue of patients with type 2 diabetes.

OBJECTIVE: We evaluated whether n-3 PUFAs have additional effects on adiposity, insulin sensitivity, adipose tissue function (production of adipokines and inflammatory and atherogenic factors), and gene expression in type 2 diabetes.

DESIGN: Twenty-seven women with type 2 diabetes without hypertriglyceridemia were randomly allocated in a double-blind parallel design to 2 mo of 3 g/d of either fish oil (1.8 g n-3 PUFAs) or placebo (paraffin oil).

RESULTS: Although body weight and energy intake measured by use of a food diary were unchanged, total fat mass (P < 0.019) and subcutaneous adipocyte diameter (P < 0.0018) were lower in the fish oil group than in the placebo group. Insulin sensitivity was not significantly different between the 2 groups (measured by homeostasis model assessment in all patients and by euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp in a subgroup of 5 patients per group). By contrast, atherogenic risk factors, including plasma triacylglycerol (P < 0.03), the ratio of triacylglycerol to HDL cholesterol (atherogenic index, P < 0.03), and plasma plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (P < 0.01), were lower in the fish oil group than in the placebo group. In addition, a subset of inflammation-related genes was reduced in subcutaneous adipose tissue after the fish oil, but not the placebo, treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: A moderate dose of n-3 PUFAs for 2 mo reduced adiposity and atherogenic markers without deterioration of insulin sensitivity in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Some adipose tissue inflammation-related genes were also reduced. These beneficial effects could be linked to morphologic and inflammatory changes in adipose tissue. This trial was registered at as NCT0037.

PMID: 18065585

See following website for full manuscript