Objective: To explore the effects of α-linolenic acid on insulin sensitivity in obese patients.
Methods: From October 2011 to April 2012, 16 patients received an oral dose of α-linolenic acid for 8 weeks.Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and insulin releasing test were performed before and after treatment. Homeostasis model assessment insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) index and area under curve of insulin (AUCI) were calculated to evaluate the insulin sensitivity. The levels of serum triglyceride, free fatty acids (FFA), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) were measured after an overnight fast.
Results: Obese patients had significantly elevated serum insulin, triglyceride, FFA, IL-6 and TNF-α versus the subjects in normal control group (all P < 0.05). Obese patients were also more insulin-resistant than normal subjects based on a higher HOMA-IR (P < 0.05). Decreased serum insulin, triglyceride, FFA, IL-6 and TNF-α were observed after treatment. With the administration of α-linolenic acid, HOMA-IR and AUCI significantly decreased in obese patients (HOMA-IR: 1.8 ± 0.2 vs 1.2 ± 0.3, P < 0.05; AUCI: 1151 ± 505 vs 768 ± 347, P < 0.05).
Conclusion: α-linolenic acid increases peripheral insulin sensitivity in obese patients and it may aid the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus and atherosclerotic vascular diseases.