Increased plasma levels of palmitoleic acid may contribute to beneficial effects of Krill oil on glucose homeostasis in dietary obese mice

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Biol Lipids. 2020 Aug;1865(8):158732. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2020.158732. Epub 2020 May 1.


Omega-3 polyunsatuarted fatty acids (PUFA) are associated with hypolipidemic and anti-inflammatory effects. However, omega-3 PUFA, usually administered as triacylglycerols or ethyl esters, could also compromise glucose metabolism, especially in obese type 2 diabetics. Phospholipids represent an alternative source of omega-3 PUFA, but their impact on glucose homeostasis is poorly explored. Male C57BL/6N mice were fed for 8 weeks a corn oil-based high-fat diet (cHF) alone or cHF-based diets containing eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (~3%; wt/wt), admixed either as a concentrate of re-esterified triacylglycerols (ω3TG) or Krill oil containing mainly phospholipids (ω3PL). Lean controls were fed a low-fat diet. Insulin sensitivity (hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps), parameters of glucose homeostasis, adipose tissue function, and plasma levels of N-acylethanolamines, monoacylglycerols and fatty acids were determined. Feeding cHF induced obesity and worsened (~4.3-fold) insulin sensitivity as determined by clamp. Insulin sensitivity was almost preserved in ω3PL but not ω3TG mice. Compared with cHF mice, endogenous glucose production was reduced to 47%, whereas whole-body and muscle glycogen synthesis increased ~3-fold in ω3PL mice that showed improved adipose tissue function and elevated plasma adiponectin levels. Besides eicosapentaenoic and docosapentaenoic acids, principal component analysis of plasma fatty acids identified palmitoleic acid (C16:1n-7) as the most discriminating analyte whose levels were increased in ω3PL mice and correlated negatively with the degree of cHF-induced glucose intolerance. While palmitoleic acid from Krill oil may help improve glucose homeostasis, our findings provide a general rationale for using omega-3 PUFA-containing phospholipids as nutritional supplements with potent insulin-sensitizing effects.

Keywords: C57BL/6 mice; High-fat diet; Insulin resistance; Krill oil; Omega-3 PUFA; Palmitoleate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / blood*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Obese
  • Phospholipids / administration & dosage
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Plant Oils / metabolism*


  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Phospholipids
  • Plant Oils
  • palmitoleic acid
  • Glucose