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Tohoku J Exp Med. 2013;231(1):63-74.

Eicosapentaenoic acid improves glycemic control in elderly bedridden patients with type 2 diabetes.

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Division of Nephrology, Endocrinology and Vascular Medicine, Tohoku University Hospital, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan.


Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are ω3-polyunsaturated fatty acids mainly contained in the blue-backed fish oil, and are effective in decreasing the lipids disorder and the cardiovascular incidence among diabetic patients. Moreover, it has been suggested that EPA and DHA may improve the insulin resistance and glucose metabolism. However, the clinical effects of EPA and DHA on glucose metabolism remain unclear. We aimed to clarify the effects of EPA/DHA treatment on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. This study was a multicenter prospective randomized controlled trial involving 30 elderly type 2 diabetic patients on a liquid diet. Their exercises were almost zero and the content of their meals was strictly managed and understood well. Therefore, the difference by the individual's life was a minimum. The subjects were divided into two groups: those receiving EPA/DHA-rich liquid diet [EPA/DHA (+)] or liquid diet lacking EPA/DHA [EPA/DHA (-)]. Changes in factors related to glucose and lipid metabolism were assessed after the three-month study. Serum concentrations of EPA rose in EPA/DHA (+), although the levels of DHA and fasting C-peptide remained unchanged in EPA/DHA (+). In addition, there was a significant decline in the fasting plasma glucose (FPG), hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), fasting remnant-like particles and apolipoprotein (apo) B in EPA/DHA (+), compared with the values in EPA/DHA (-). EPA/DHA-rich diet might improve glucose metabolism in elderly type 2 diabetic patients on a liquid diet. This phenomenon may be due to the improved insulin resistance mediated by the rise in serum EPA concentrations.

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