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J Nutr. 2019 Jan 1;149(1):57-67. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxy238.

The Association of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid δ-5-Desaturase Activity with Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes Is Dependent on Plasma ApoB-Lipoproteins in Overweight and Obese Adults.

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Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec.
Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), Montréal, Québec.
Institut de Cardiologie de Montréal (ICM), Montréal, Québec.
Montreal Diabetes Research Center (MDRC), Montréal, Québec.



δ-5 and δ-6 desaturases (D5D and D6D) catalyze the endogenous conversion of n-3 (ω-3) and n-6 (ω-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Their activities are negatively and positively associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D), respectively, by unclear mechanisms. Elevated plasma apoB-lipoproteins (measured as plasma apoB), which can be reduced by n-3 PUFA intake, promote T2D risk factors.


The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that the association of D5D and D6D activities with T2D risk factors is dependent on plasma apoB.


This is a pooled analysis of 2 populations recruited for 2 different metabolic studies. It is a post hoc analysis of baseline data of these subjects [n = 98; 60% women (postmenopausal); mean ± SD body mass index (in kg/m2): 32.8 ± 4.7; mean ± SD age: 57.6 ± 6.3 y]. Glucose-induced insulin secretion (GIIS) and insulin sensitivity (IS) were measured using Botnia clamps. Plasma clearance of a high-fat meal (600 kcal/m2, 66% fat) and white adipose tissue (WAT) function (storage of 3H-triolein-labeled substrate) were assessed in a subpopulation (n = 47). Desaturase activities were estimated from plasma phospholipid fatty acids. Associations were examined using Pearson and partial correlations.


While both desaturase activities were positively associated with percentage of eicosapentaenoic acid, only D5D was negatively associated with plasma apoB (r = -0.30, P = 0.003). Association of D5D activity with second-phase GIIS (r = -0.23, P = 0.029), IS (r = 0.33, P = 0.015, in women) and 6-h area-under-the-curve (AUC6h) of plasma chylomicrons (apoB48, r = -0.47, P = 0.020, in women) was independent of age and adiposity, but was eliminated after adjustment for plasma apoB. D6D activity was associated in the opposite direction with GIIS (r = 0.24, P = 0.049), IS (r = -0.36, P = 0.004) and AUC6h chylomicrons (r = 0.52, P = 0.004), independent of plasma apoB. Both desaturases were associated with plasma interleukin-1-receptor antagonist (D5D: r = -0.45, P < 0.001 in women; D6D: r = -0.33, P = 0.007) and WAT function (trend for D5D: r = 0.30, P = 0.05; D6D: r = 0.39, P = 0.027) independent of any adjustment.


Association of D5D activity with IS, lower GIIS, and plasma chylomicron clearance is dependent on plasma apoB in overweight and obese adults.

[Available on 2020-01-01]

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