Protective action of arachidonic acid against alloxan-induced cytotoxicity and diabetes mellitus

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2001 Jan;64(1):37-52. doi: 10.1054/plef.2000.0236.


Previous studies showed that essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency, conjugated linoleic acid and troglitazone exert a protective effect in animal models of diabetes mellitus. Here we show that alloxan-induced in vitro cytotoxicity and apoptosis in an insulin secreting rat insulinoma, RIN, cells can be prevented by arachidonic acid (AA) and that both cyclo-oxygenase and lipoxygenase inhibitors do not block this protective action. Alloxan-induced diabetes in male Wistar rats was also prevented by oral supplementation of AA, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This protective action is best when the animals were pre-treated with the fatty acid. These results suggest that polyunsaturated fatty acids can prevent alloxan-induced diabetes mellitus in experimental animals and may be useful to prevent diabetes mellitus in the high-risk population.

MeSH terms

  • Alloxan / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Arachidonic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Arachidonic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / prevention & control
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology
  • Insulinoma
  • Male
  • Oxidoreductases / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antioxidants
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Alloxan
  • Oxidoreductases