Very-long-chain ω-3 fatty acid supplements and adipose tissue functions: A randomized controlled trial

Kazanna C. Hames, Maria Morgan-Bathke, Debra A. Harteneck, Lendia Zhou, John D. Port, Ian R. Lanza, Michael D. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Increased omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid consumption is reported to benefit patients with metabolic syndrome, possibly due to improved adipose tissue function. Objective: We tested the effects of high-dose, very-long-chain ω-3 fatty acids on adipose tissue inflammation and insulin regulation of lipolysis. Design: A double-blind, placebo-controlled study compared 6 mo of 3.9 g eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)/d (4.2 g total ω-3/d; n = 12) with a placebo (4.2 g oleate/d; n = 9) in insulin-resistant adults. Before and after treatment, the volunteers underwent adipose tissue biopsies to measure the total (CD68+), pro-(CD14+ = M1), and anti-(CD206+ = M2) inflammatory macrophages, crown-like structures, and senescent cells, as well as a 2-step pancreatic clamping with a[U-13C]palmitate infusion to determine the insulin concentration needed to suppress palmitate flux by 50% (IC50(palmitate)f). Results: In the v-3 group, the EPA and DHA contributions to plasma free fatty acids increased (P = 0.0003 and P = 0.003, respectively), as did the EPA and DHA content in adipose tissue (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.0001, respectively). Despite increases in adipose and plasma EPA and DHA in the v-3 group, there were no significant changes in the IC50(palmitate)f (19 ± 2 compared with 24 ± 3 μIU/mL), adipose macrophages (total: 31 ± 2/100 adipocytes compared with 33 ± 2/100 adipocytes; CD14+: 13 ± 2/100 adipocytes compared with 14 6 2/100 adipocytes; CD206+: 28 ± 2/100 adipocytes compared with 29 ± 3/100 adipocytes), crown-like structures (1 ± 0/10 images compared with 1 ± 0/10 images), or senescent cells (4% ± 1% compared with 4% ± 1%). There were no changes in these outcomes in the placebo group. Conclusions: Six months of high-dose ω-3 supplementation raised plasma and adipose v-3 fatty acid concentrations but had no beneficial effects on adipose tissue lipolysis or inflammation in insulinresistant adults. This trial was registered at as NCT01686568. Am J Clin Nutr 2017;105:1552-8.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1552-1558
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • DHA
  • EPA
  • Inflammation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Lipolysis
  • Macrophage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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