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Insulin-Sensitizing Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Lost in Translation?

Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolism, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2016, 8(6), 329;
Received: 9 February 2016 / Revised: 18 May 2016 / Accepted: 18 May 2016 / Published: 1 June 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diet and Metabolic Dysfunction)
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) of marine origin, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been long studied for their therapeutic potential in the context of type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and glucose homeostasis. Glaring discordance between observations in animal and human studies precludes, to date, any practical application of n-3 PUFA as nutritional therapeutics against insulin resistance in humans. Our objective in this review is to summarize current knowledge and provide an up-to-date commentary on the therapeutic value of EPA and DHA supplementation for improving insulin sensitivity in humans. We also sought to discuss potential mechanisms of n-3 PUFA action in target tissues, in specific skeletal muscle, based on our recent work, as well as in liver and adipose tissue. We conducted a literature search to include all preclinical and clinical studies performed within the last two years and to comment on representative studies published earlier. Recent studies support a growing consensus that there are beneficial effects of n-3 PUFA on insulin sensitivity in rodents. Observational studies in humans are encouraging, however, the vast majority of human intervention studies fail to demonstrate the benefit of n-3 PUFA in type 2 diabetes or insulin-resistant non-diabetic people. Nevertheless, there are still several unanswered questions regarding the potential impact of n-3 PUFA on metabolic function in humans. View Full-Text
Keywords: insulin resistance; EPA; DHA; n-3 PUFA; mitochondria; muscle insulin resistance; EPA; DHA; n-3 PUFA; mitochondria; muscle
MDPI and ACS Style

Lalia, A.Z.; Lanza, I.R. Insulin-Sensitizing Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Lost in Translation? Nutrients 2016, 8, 329.

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