Omega-3 fatty acid consumption has been suggested to be beneficial for the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Its effects have been attributed to anti-inflammatory activity, with the inhibition of arachidonic acid metabolism playing a central role. However, a more recent view is that omega-3 fatty acids play an active role as the precursors of potent, specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs), such as resolvins, protectins, and maresins. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)- and eicosapentaenoic-acid-derived SPMs are identified in the adipose tissue but the levels of certain SPMs (e.g., protectin D1) are markedly reduced with obesity, suggesting adipose SPM deficiency, potentially resulting in unresolved inflammation. Supplementation of the biosynthetic intermediates of SPM (e.g., 17-hydroxy-DHA) or omega-3 fatty acids increases the level of adipose SPMs, reduces adipose inflammation (decrease in macrophage accumulation and change to less inflammatory macrophages), and enhances insulin sensitivity. The findings from studies using rodent obesity models must be translated to humans. It will be important to further elucidate the underlying mechanisms by which obesity reduces the levels of and the sensitivity to SPM in adipose tissues. This will enable the development of nutrition therapy to enhance the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention and/or treatment of T2DM.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (2017R1D1A1B03034185).
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- insulin sensitivity
- metabolic syndrome
- omega-3 fatty acids