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Diabetes Obes Metab. 2007 Jan;9(1):70-80.

The impact of long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on inflammation, insulin sensitivity and CVD risk in a group of overweight women with an inflammatory phenotype.

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  • 1MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Fulbourn Road, Cambridge, UK.



Inflammation is strongly related to obesity and the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The metabolic benefits of long chain (LC) n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) may be attributable to its anti-inflammatory properties.


To investigate whether an individual's habitual inflammatory status influences the impact of a LC n-3 PUFA intervention on CVD risk.


The study was a randomized crossover design. Subjects received LC n-3 PUFA capsules or a placebo for 12 weeks, with 4-week washout between phases. Thirty women, in the top and bottom tertiles of baseline sialic acid concentration, formed raised inflammatory status (top, n = 12) and reference (bottom, n = 18) groups. Baseline data were analysed using one-way anova, differences between treatment phases were calculated at each timepoint and analysed using a random effects model.


At baseline, the raised inflammatory status group had significantly higher body mass index and area under the curve (AUC) insulin than the reference group. With LC n-3 PUFA supplementation, both groups showed significantly higher plasma eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid at 4 and 12 weeks (p < 0.001), and lower triacylglycerols (4 weeks p < 0.01 and 12 weeks p < 0.05). The difference in AUC insulin between the two treatment phases at 12 weeks was significantly greater in the raised inflammatory status group compared to the reference group (p < 0.05). Inflammatory markers were significantly lower after 12 weeks LC n-3 PUFA supplementation compared to baseline (C-reactive protein p < 0.05 and interleukin-6 p < 0.01), but there was no significant group effect.


Habitual inflammatory status influences the impact of LC n-3 PUFA supplementation, but it is not clear whether the effect of LC n-3 PUFA on AUC insulin is mediated through inflammatory mechanisms.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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