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Lipids. 2003 Feb;38(2):133-7.

CLA and body weight regulation in humans.

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  • 1Unit for Clinical Nutrition Research, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, University of Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden.


CLA comprises a group of unsaturated FA isomers with a variety of biological effects in experimental animals. CLA reduces body fat accumulation in animal models and has been suggested to have significant effects on lipid and glucose metabolism, e.g., antidiabetic effects in obese Zucker rats. It has been proposed that the trans10-cis12 isomer is the active isomer associated with the antiobesity and insulin-sensitizing properties of CLA. The metabolic effects in humans in general, and isomer-specific effects specifically, are not well characterized. In a series of controlled studies in humans, we investigated the effects of CLA (given as the commercially available mixture of isomers and as the purified trans10-cis12 CLA isomer) on anthropometry, lipid and glucose metabolism, and markers of lipid peroxidation. Preliminary results indicate that CLA may slightly decrease body fat in humans also, particularly abdominal fat, but there is no effect on body weight or body mass index. There is no simultaneous improvement in lipid or glucose metabolism. Rather, the trans10-cis12 CLA isomer unexpectedly caused significant impairment of the peripheral insulin sensitivity as well as of blood glucose and serum lipid levels. In addition, CLA markedly elevated lipid peroxidation. Thus, the metabolic effects of CLA in humans seem complex; further studies, especially of isomer-specific effects and for longer time periods, are warranted.

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