Effects of n-3 pufas on fasting plasma glucose and insulin resistance in patients with impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance

Biofactors. 2016 May;42(3):316-22. doi: 10.1002/biof.1277. Epub 2016 Apr 4.


Aim: to evaluate if a supplementation with n-3 PUFAs at high doses could give a regression of the condition of impaired glycemia.

Methods: we enrolled 281 overweight/obese patients with impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT); 138 subjects were randomized to n-3 PUFAs group, 1 g three times a day, and 143 to placebo for 18 months. We assessed at baseline, and after 9, and 18 months: circumferences, body mass index (BMI), fasting plasma glucose (FPG), fasting plasma insulin (FPI), HOMA-index, lipid profile. At baseline and at the end of the study, all patients underwent an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).

Results: we observed a decrease of glycemia and HOMA-IR with n-3 PUFAs, compared to baseline, and to placebo. Fasting plasma insulin decreased with n-3 PUFAs and increased with placebo. HDL-cholesterol increased after 18 months of n-3 PUFAs, while triglycerides decreased compared to baseline and to placebo. After OGTT performed at the end of the study, more patients returned to a condition of euglycemia with n-3 PUFAs compared to placebo.

Conclusions: n-3 PUFAs were effective in reducing glycemia in patients affected by IFG or IGT and seem to be helpful to slow the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus. © 2016 BioFactors, 42(3):316-322, 2016.

Keywords: diabetes; glucose; insulin resistance; omega-3 fatty acids.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance / blood
  • Glucose Intolerance / diet therapy*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance / genetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Overweight / blood
  • Overweight / diet therapy*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Insulin