Study Title:

A Dairy Fat and Omega 3 Fatty Acids Linked to Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Study Abstract

Background: The long-term role of fatty acids (FAs) in the cause of diabetes remains largely unclear.

Objective: We aimed to investigate erythrocyte membrane FAs, desaturase activity, and dietary FAs in relation to the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Design: We applied a nested case-cohort design (n = 2724, including 673 incident diabetes cases) within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)–Potsdam Study, which involves 27,548 middle-aged subjects. Thirty erythrocyte membrane FAs (percentage of total FAs) and FA intake (percentage of total fat) were measured at baseline, and physician-confirmed incident diabetes was assessed during a mean follow-up of 7.0 y. We evaluated Δ5 desaturase (D5D) and Δ6 desaturase (D6D) activity by using FA product-to-precursor ratios (traditional approach) and by investigating variants in FADS1 and FADS2 genes that encode these desaturases (Mendelian randomization approach).

Results: As a main finding, erythrocyte 16:1n−7 and 18:3n−6 and FA ratios, which reflect stearoyl coenzyme A desaturase (SCD) and D6D activity, were directly related to diabetes risk in multivariable-adjusted models [relative risks (95% CIs) comparing extreme quintiles: 16:1n−7, 2.11 (1.46, 3.05), 18:3n−6, 2.00 (1.38, 2.88), SCD, 2.61 (1.75, 3.89), and D6D, 2.46 (1.67, 3.63)], whereas the FA ratio that reflects D5D activity was inversely associated with risk [0.46 (0.31, 0.70)]. The Mendelian randomization approach corroborated the direct relation for D6D activity and tended to support the inverse relation for D5D activity. Proportions of dietary FAs showed only modest to low correlations with erythrocyte FAs and were not significantly associated with risk.

Conclusion: The FA profile of erythrocyte membrane phospholipids and activity of desaturase enzymes are strongly linked to the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Study Information

Janine Kröger, Vera Zietemann, Cornelia Enzenbach, Cornelia Weikert, Eugène HJM Jansen, Frank Döring, Hans-Georg Joost, Heiner Boeing, and Matthias B Schulze.
Erythrocyte membrane phospholipid fatty acids, desaturase activity, and dietary fatty acids in relation to risk of type 2 diabetes in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)–Potsdam Study
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
2011 January
Department of Molecular Epidemiology, German Institute of Human Nutrition.

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