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Diabetologia. 2009 Apr;52(4):684-90. doi: 10.1007/s00125-009-1282-2. Epub 2009 Feb 13.

Serum saturated fatty acids containing triacylglycerols are better markers of insulin resistance than total serum triacylglycerol concentrations.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Diabetes, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.



The weak relationship between insulin resistance and total serum triacylglycerols (TGs) could be in part due to heterogeneity of TG molecules and their distribution within different lipoproteins. We determined concentrations of individual TGs and the fatty acid composition of serum and major lipoprotein particles and analysed how changes in different TGs and fatty acid composition are related to features of insulin resistance and abdominal obesity.


We performed lipidomic analyses of all major lipoprotein fractions using two analytical platforms in 16 individuals, who exhibited a broad range of insulin sensitivity.


We identified 45 different TGs in serum. Serum TGs containing saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids were positively, while TGs containing essential linoleic acid (18:2 n-6) were negatively correlated with HOMA-IR. Specific serum TGs that correlated positively with HOMA-IR were also significantly positively related to HOMA-IR when measured in very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs), intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDLs) and LDL, but not in HDL subfraction 2 (HDL(2)) or 3 (HDL(3)). Analyses of proportions of esterified fatty acids within lipoproteins revealed that palmitic acid (16:0) was positively related to HOMA-IR when measured in VLDL, IDL and LDL, but not in HDL(2) or HDL(3). Monounsaturated palmitoleic (16:1 n-7) and oleic (18:1 n-9) acids were positively related to HOMA-IR when measured in HDL(2) and HDL(3), but not in VLDL, IDL or LDL. Linoleic acid was negatively related to HOMA-IR in all lipoproteins.


Serum concentrations of specific TGs, such as TG(16:0/16:0/18:1) or TG(16:0/18:1/18:0), may be more precise markers of insulin resistance than total serum TG concentrations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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