ISLAMABAD: A recent study, published in The Journal of Physiology, shows that fish oil supplementation might have the power to prevent the detrimental metabolic effects of a high-fat diet, such as type 2 diabetes.

Fish oil is high in long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid; these have long been known to improve insulin sensitivity and to have potent anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic (lipid-lowering), and body weight reducing effects.

A team of researchers from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, set out to investigate how fish oil supplementation might influence the metabolism of mice fed on a high-fat diet.

The team measured a number of factors that have an influence over metabolism, such as insulin resistance and fat deposits from different parts of the body.

As expected, the high-fat diet caused significant changes in a number of pathways; these included glucose uptake and secretion of adiponectin, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-6, lipolysis, de novo lipogenesis, and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

This range of metabolic alterations, however, did not arise in the mice that received the fish oil supplementation. In other words, negative metabolic effects produced by high-fat intake were halted by fish oil.

Prof. Maria Isabel Alonso-Vale, lead investigator said that "r research suggests that fish oil supplements may be used in addition to other strategies as a preventative measure for insulin resistance and obesity."

The current study was carried out on a mouse model; as such, before the theory can be confirmed, it must be tested on human subjects. As Prof. Alonso-Vale continues: "More research will need to be done so we can have a better understanding of the effect of fish oil in humans."

The findings are intriguing and will, no doubt, attract follow-up investigations. Effective pharmacological interventions for metabolic disorders using fish oil extracts could be just around the corner.