Effect of omega-3 fatty acids supplementation on insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2017 Apr-Jun;11(2):157-162. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2016.06.025. Epub 2016 Jul 4.


Background: Several studies have shown that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) may improve insulin resistance in various diseases. However, the possible effect of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation on insulin resistance in PCOS still remains unclear. We evaluated the effect of omega-3 PUFA supplementation on insulin resistance in women with PCOS in a meta-analysis.

Methods: Literature searches of MEDLINE, PubMed Central and EMBASE for publications in English were conducted up to December 2015. We included all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that investigated effects of omega-3 fatty acids supplements on insulin resistance in women with PCOS. Results are summarized as mean differences (MD) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Effect sizes of eligible studies were pooled using random-effects models (the DerSimonian-Laird estimator). We assessed the potential sources of heterogeneity using the standard χ2 test.

Results: Of 1202 papers, three RCTs were eligible for inclusion which involved 72 cases and 73 controls. The dose range for omega3 supplement was 1.2g to 3.6g and the duration of follow-up was from 6 to 8 weeks. There was no significant effect of omega-3 fatty acids supplements compared to placebo on insulin resistance (MD: 6.18; CI; -3.347, 15.382; p=0.208) and HOMA -IR (MD: 0.276; 95% CI=-1.428, 1.981; p=0.751) in women with PCOS.

Conclusion: The results provide an evidence that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may not have a beneficial effect on improving insulin resistance in women with PCOS.

Keywords: Polycystic ovary syndrome; Polyunsaturated fatty acids; Randomized controlled trials.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3