Cross-sectional study of conjugated linoleic acid in adipose tissue and risk of diabetes

Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Jul;96(1):175-81. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.011858. Epub 2012 May 30.


Background: Some experimental studies on conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and insulin regulation suggested that CLA could be associated with risk of diabetes, but epidemiologic studies are lacking.

Objective: The aim of the study was to test whether the amount of CLA in adipose tissue is associated with risk of diabetes.

Design: A cross-sectional design was used to test the study hypothesis in 232 adults with diabetes and 1512 adults without diabetes who lived in Costa Rica. The cis-9, trans-11 and trans-10, cis-12 CLA isomers in adipose tissue and 48 other fatty acids were assessed by using gas chromatography. Prevalence ratios (PRs) and 95% CIs were estimated by using Poisson regression adjusted for potential confounders.

Results: The mean (±SD) percentage of total fatty acids of CLA for the cis-9, trans-11 isomer in adipose tissue was 0.57 ± 0.18% in adults without diabetes and 0.53 ± 0.17% in adults with diabetes (P = 0.0078). The trans-10, cis-12 CLA isomer was not detected in adipose tissue. The cis-9, trans-11 CLA isomer was associated with a lower risk of diabetes. In comparison with the first quintile, the PR (95% CI) for the fifth quintile was 0.48 (0.31, 0.76) (P-trend = 0.0005) in the basic and 0.46 (0.29, 0.72) (P-trend = 0.0002) in the multivariable model. Additional adjustment for other fatty acids in adipose tissue including trans-9 16:1, which is a fatty acid that was previously associated with diabetes, did not modify the results.

Conclusion: The observed inverse association between the cis-9, trans-11 CLA in adipose tissue and diabetes risk is consistent with the hypothesis that CLA may be involved in insulin regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, White / metabolism*
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / chemistry
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Buttocks
  • Costa Rica / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated / chemistry
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Prevalence
  • Risk
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated
  • Triglycerides
  • cis-9, trans-11-conjugated linoleic acid