Associations between plasma polyunsaturated fatty acids, plasma stearoyl-CoA desaturase indices and body fat

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Sep;21(9):E512-9. doi: 10.1002/oby.20457. Epub 2013 Jun 22.


Objective: Stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD)-1 deficient mice are resistant to obesity and plasma SCD indices are related to obesity in humans. Both n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) regulate expression of the SCD enzymes. Whether higher plasma PUFA were associated with lower SCD indices in humans was examined.

Design and methods: Population-based study of 2,021 elderly subjects from the Hordaland Health Study. Using multivariate linear regression, the cross-sectional associations among plasma PUFA, estimated SCD indices (from fatty acid profiles in plasma total lipids), and fat mass measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry were explored. Two plasma SCD indices were used: SCD-16 (16:1n-7/16:0) and SCD-18 (18:1n-9/18:0).

Results: Plasma total, n-6 and n-3 PUFA were inversely associated with both SCD indices (P < 0.001 for all). Among the individual PUFA, 18:2n-6 showed the strongest association with SCD-16 (partial r = -0.59, P < 0.001) followed by 20:5n-3 (partial r = -0.13; P < 0.001). Plasma total, n-6 and n-3 PUFA were inversely associated with body fat (P < 0.001 for all); the associations were markedly attenuated following adjustment for SCD-16.

Conclusions: The epidemiological data are in line with animal studies and suggest that PUFA may decrease SCD1 activity in humans, with possible reduction in body fat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / enzymology
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase / blood*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase