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.
Copyright 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.