Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids regulate bovine whole-body protein metabolism by promoting muscle insulin signalling to the Akt-mTOR-S6K1 pathway and insulin sensitivity

J Physiol. 2007 Feb 15;579(Pt 1):269-84. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2006.121079. Epub 2006 Dec 7.


The ability of the skeletal musculature to use amino acids to build or renew constitutive proteins is gradually lost with age and this is partly due to a decline in skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity. Since long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn-3PUFA) from fish oil are known to improve insulin-mediated glucose metabolism in insulin-resistant states, their potential role in regulating insulin-mediated protein metabolism was investigated in this study. Experimental data are based on a switchback design composed of three 5 week experimental periods using six growing steers to compare the effect of a continuous abomasal infusion of LCn-3PUFA-rich menhaden oil with an iso-energetic control oil mixture. Clamp and insulin signalling observations were combined with additional data from a second cohort of six steers. We found that enteral LCn-3PUFA potentiate insulin action by increasing the insulin-stimulated whole-body disposal of amino acids from 152 to 308 micromol kg(-1) h(-1) (P=0.006). The study further showed that in the fed steady-state, chronic adaptation to LCn-3PUFA induces greater activation (P<0.05) of the Akt-mTOR-S6K1 signalling pathway. Simultaneously, whole-body total flux of phenylalanine was reduced from 87 to 67 micromol kg(-1) h(-1) (P=0.04) and oxidative metabolism was decreased (P=0.05). We conclude that chronic feeding of menhaden oil provides a novel nutritional mean to enhance insulin-sensitive aspects of protein metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biopsy
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Cattle
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacokinetics*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacokinetics*
  • Fish Oils / pharmacokinetics
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Growth / drug effects
  • Growth / physiology
  • Hyperinsulinism / metabolism
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Phenylalanine / blood
  • Phenylalanine / pharmacokinetics
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Regression Analysis
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Insulin
  • Phospholipids
  • Menhaden oil
  • Phenylalanine
  • Protein Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases