Intake of farmed Atlantic salmon fed soybean oil increases insulin resistance and hepatic lipid accumulation in mice

PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53094. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053094. Epub 2013 Jan 2.


Background: To ensure sustainable aquaculture, fish derived raw materials are replaced by vegetable ingredients. Fatty acid composition and contaminant status of farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) are affected by the use of plant ingredients and a spillover effect on consumers is thus expected. Here we aimed to compare the effects of intake of Atlantic salmon fed fish oil (FO) with intake of Atlantic salmon fed a high proportion of vegetable oils (VOs) on development of insulin resistance and obesity in mice.

Methodology/principal findings: Atlantic salmon were fed diets where FO was partly (80%) replaced with three different VOs; rapeseed oil (RO), olive oil (OO) or soy bean oil (SO). Fillets from Atlantic salmon were subsequently used to prepare Western diets (WD) for a mouse feeding trial. Partial replacement of FO with VOs reduced the levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and dichloro-diphenyl-tricloroethanes (DDT) with more than 50% in salmon fillets, in WDs containing the fillets, and in white adipose tissue from mice consuming the WDs. Replacement with VOs, SO in particular, lowered the n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) content and increased n-6 PUFA levels in the salmon fillets, in the prepared WDs, and in red blood cells collected from mice consuming the WDs. Replacing FO with VO did not influence obesity development in the mice, but replacement of FO with RO improved glucose tolerance. Compared with WD-FO fed mice, feeding mice WD-SO containing lower PCB and DDT levels but high levels of linoleic acid (LA), exaggerated insulin resistance and increased accumulation of fat in the liver.

Conclusion/significance: Replacement of FO with VOs in aqua feed for farmed salmon had markedly different spillover effects on metabolism in mice. Our results suggest that the content of LA in VOs may be a matter of concern that warrants further investigation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquaculture / methods
  • DDT / analysis
  • Diet*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Lipids / chemistry*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Plant Oils
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis
  • Salmo salar*
  • Soybean Oil*


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Insulin
  • Lipids
  • Plant Oils
  • Soybean Oil
  • DDT
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls

Grant support

This study was funded by the Research Council of Norway, project 199626. The funders had no role in study design, data collection, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.