Author(s): Weir NL, Nomura SO, Steffen BT, Guan W, Karger AB, Klein R, Klein BEK, Cotch MF, Tsai MY. Associations between omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, hyperinsulinemia and incident diabetes by race/ethnicity: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Clin Nutr. 2020 Oct;39(10):3031-3041. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2020.01.003. Epub 2020 Jan 22. PMID 32008872
BACKGROUND & AIMS Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been shown to relate to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (T2D), but influence of race/ethnicity has not been investigated. The aim of this study was to determine whether omega-6 PUFAs, and estimated desaturase enzyme activity, are associated with fasting glucose, insulin, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and incident T2D, and whether associations differ by race/ethnicity.
METHODS This study was conducted in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) (N = 6282). Associations between baseline plasma phospholipid fatty acids (LA, Linoleic Acid; GLA, γ-linoleic acid; DGLA, Dihomo-γ-linolenic acid; AA, arachidonic acid; D5D, delta-5 desaturase; D6D, delta-6 desaturase), fasting glucose, insulin, and HOMA-IR [(fasting insulin – fasting glucose)/22.5] were evaluated using linear regression. Associations between omega-6 PUFAs (N = 5508 after excluding diabetics at baseline) and T2D incidence were assessed using Cox proportional hazards regression. Analyses were replicated/stratified by race/ethnicity (White, Black, Chinese, Hispanic) and tests for interaction were assessed by inclusion of a cross-product term in models.
RESULTS In fully adjusted models, insulin and HOMA-IR were positively associated with LA (insulin: 0.213 per SD, p = 0.01; HOMA-IR: 0.252 per SD, p < 0.001), GLA (insulin: 0.010 per SD, p < 0.001; HOMA-IR: 0.006 per SD, p < 0.001), DGLA (insulin: 0.279 per SD, p < 0.001; HOMA-IR: 0.175 per SD, p < 0.001) and D6D activity (insulin: 0.001 per SD, p < 0.001; HOMA-IR: 0.006 per SD, p < 0.001), and inversely associated with AA (insulin -0.272 per SD, p < 0.001; HOMA-IR: -0.125 per SD, p = 0.03) and D5D activity (insulin: -0.530 per SD, p < 0.001; HOMA-IR: -0.322 per SD, p < 0.001), while weak or no associations were observed with fasting glucose, and associations appeared to differ by race/ethnicity. After accounting for HOMA-IR at baseline, LA was inversely (HR: 0.87, p = 0.003) and DGLA (HR: 1.17, p 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS Results confirm previous reports that omega-6 PUFAs are associated with hyperinsulinemia. Findings suggest omega-6 PUFAs are more likely markers of hyperinsulinemia rather than a protective/risk factor for T2D and indicate racial/ethnic differences in associations, but further research is needed to confirm findings.