Food and Behaviour Research

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Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supply influences mechanisms controlling body weight and glucose metabolism.

Jayasooriya AP, Weisinger RS, Weisinger HS, Mathai M, Puskas L, Kitajka K, Dashti M, Egan G, Sinclair AJ. (2004) Asia Pac J Clin Nutr.  13(Suppl) S51. 

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Background - Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are known to influence crucial membrane functions, eicosanoid metabolism and gene expression mechanisms. Objective - To determine the influence of dietary omega-3 fatty acid supply on ingestive behaviour, body weight, adiposity and glucose tolerance. Design - Female rats were fed with a alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) sufficient (CON) or deficient (DEF) diet throughout gestation and lactation. Three groups of male offspring were studied: (1) pups maintained on CON diet, from mothers on CON diet, CON (n=11); (2) pups maintained on DEF diet, from mothers on DEF diet, DEF (n=11); (3) pups maintained on CON diet from weaning (3 weeks of age), from mothers on DEF diet, DEF-CON (n=11). Food intake, body weight, fat and oral glucose tolerance were assessed in adult offspring. Brain gene expression of 3-week old and adult offspring was evaluated. Fatty acid profile of mothers' milk was also analyzed. Statistical analysis by ANOVA; P<0.05 was considered significant. Outcomes - CON-mothers showed a 15-fold increase of ALA content in milk compared with DEF-mothers. Relative to CON offspring, adult DEF-CON offspring consumed more food (P<0.05), were heavier, had a greater proportion of body fat and showed impairment in glucose tolerance; adult DEF animals had similar food intake, body weight, proportion of body fat, but showed impaired glucose tolerance. Two genes coding for proteins involved in glucose homeostasis (Pttg1; Pituitary tumor-transforming 1, Exoc7; exocyst complex component 7) were under-expressed in DEF weanlings but not in adult animals. The expression of genes coding for glucose transporter 4, insulin and leptin receptors and neuropeptide Y were not altered due to omega-3 deficiency. Conclusions - Deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids from conception adversely affected glucose tolerance, assessed in adulthood. Exposure of DEF offspring to CON diet from weaning, however, caused more severe disruption of physio-logical mechanisms, possibly initiated by changes in the mechanisms controlling food intake.