Omega-3 fatty acids and adipose tissue function in obesity and metabolic syndrome

Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat. 2015 Sep;121(Pt A):24-41. doi: 10.1016/j.prostaglandins.2015.07.003. Epub 2015 Jul 26.


The n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) have been reported to improve obesity-associated metabolic disorders including chronic inflammation, insulin resistance and dyslipidaemia. Growing evidence exits about adipose tissue as a target in mediating the beneficial effects of these marine n-3 PUFAs in adverse metabolic syndrome manifestations. Therefore, in this manuscript we focus in reviewing the current knowledge about effects of marine n-3 PUFAs on adipose tissue metabolism and secretory functions. This scope includes n-3 PUFAs actions on adipogenesis, lipogenesis and lipolysis as well as on fatty acid oxidation and mitochondrial biogenesis. The effects of n-3 PUFAs on adipose tissue glucose uptake and insulin signaling are also summarized. Moreover, the roles of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) and AMPK activation in mediating n-3 PUFAs actions on adipose tissue functions are discussed. Finally, the mechanisms underlying the ability of n-3 PUFAs to prevent and/or ameliorate adipose tissue inflammation are also revised, focusing on the role of n-3 PUFAs-derived specialized proresolving lipid mediators such as resolvins, protectins and maresins.

Keywords: Marine origin omega-3 fatty acids; adipogenesis; adipokines; adipose tissue; glucose metabolism; lipid metabolism; metabolic syndrome; obesity; omega-3-derived proresolving lipid mediators.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects*
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome / pathology*
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases