Trans fatty acid intake is associated with insulin sensitivity but independently of inflammation

Braz J Med Biol Res. 2012 Jul;45(7):625-31. doi: 10.1590/s0100-879x2012007500071. Epub 2012 May 10.


High saturated and trans fatty acid intake, the typical dietary pattern of Western populations, favors a proinflammatory status that contributes to generating insulin resistance (IR). We examined whether the consumption of these fatty acids was associated with IR and inflammatory markers. In this cross-sectional study, 127 non-diabetic individuals were allocated to a group without IR and 56 to another with IR, defined as homeostasis model assessment-IR (HOMA-IR) >2.71. Diet was assessed using 24-h food recalls. Multiple linear regression was employed to test independent associations with HOMA-IR. The IR group presented worse anthropometric, biochemical and inflammatory profiles. Energy intake was correlated with abdominal circumference and inversely with adiponectin concentrations (r = -0.227, P = 0.002), while saturated fat intake correlated with inflammatory markers and trans fat with HOMA-IR (r = 0.160, P = 0.030). Abdominal circumference was associated with HOMA-IR (r = 0.430, P < 0.001). In multiple analysis, HOMA-IR remained associated with trans fat intake (β = 1.416, P = 0.039) and body mass index (β = 0.390, P < 0.001), and was also inversely associated with adiponectin (β = -1.637, P = 0.004). Inclusion of other nutrients (saturated fat and added sugar) or other inflammatory markers (IL-6 and CRP) into the models did not modify these associations. Our study supports that trans fat intake impairs insulin sensitivity. The hypothesis that its effect could depend on transcription factors, resulting in expression of proinflammatory genes, was not corroborated. We speculate that trans fat interferes predominantly with insulin signaling via intracellular kinases, which alter insulin receptor substrates.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Mass Index
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects*
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Female
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Trans Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Trans Fatty Acids / adverse effects*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Fats
  • Interleukin-6
  • Trans Fatty Acids
  • C-Reactive Protein