British Journal of Nutrition

Lipid Metabolism

Effects of n-3 fatty acids on postprandial triacylglycerol and hormone concentrations in normal subjects

Christine M. Williamsa1, F. Moorea1, L. Morgana1 and J. Wrighta1

a1 The Nutrition Research Group, Department of Biochemistry, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 5XH

Abstract

The present study reports results from two investigations to determine effects of a 6-week period of moderate n-3 fatty acid supplementation (2.7 g/d) on fasting and on postprandial triacylglycerol and metabolic hormone concentrations in response to standard test meals. In the first study postprandial responses were followed for 210 min after an early morning test meal challenge; in the second study responses to an evening test meal were followed during the evening and overnight for a total period of 12 h. In both studies postprandial triacylglycerol responses to the test meals were significantly reduced after compared with before fish-oil supplementation. In the second study the triacylglycerol peak response seen between 200 and 400 min in subjects studied before supplementation with fish oils was almost completely absent in the same subjects after 6 weeks of n-3 fatty acid supplementation. Analysis of fasting concentrations of metabolites and hormones was carried out on the combined data from the two studies. There were no significant differences in total, low-density-lipoprotein- or high-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol concentrations during fish-oil supplementation, although there was considerable individual variation in cholesterol responses to the supplement. Concentrations of Apo-B and Apo-A1 were unchanged during supplementation with fish oils. Fasting and early morning postprandial GIP concentrations were lower in subjects taking fish oils, possibly due to acute effects of fish-oil capsules taken on the evening before the studies. In both studies fasting insulin and glucose and postprandial insulin concentrations remained unchanged following fish-oil supplementation. The results do not support the view that triacylglycerol-lowering effects of n-3 fatty acids are due to modulation of insulin secretion mediated via the enteroinsular axis. Further studies are required to determine the precise mechanism by which fish oils reduce both fasting and postprandial triacylglycerol concentrations.

(Received June 17 1991)

(Accepted December 17 1991)

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