Research Article| Volume 59, ISSUE 3, P191-194, September 1998

Relationship between plasma insulin and erythrocyte fatty acid composition

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      Insulin resistance is an important condition which underlies much of the coronary artery disease in affluent societies. We have related insulin resistance, as assessed by fasting plasma insulin, to erythrocyte membrane composition in 54 healthy men and women on a low fat diet. We found a inverse relationship (r = −0.41, P = 0.002) between fasting plasma insulin and the percentage of arachidonic acid in erythrocyte fatty acids. An inverse relationship of similar strength was found with total n-6 fatty acids and a positive relationship was found with the percentage of saturated fatty acids (r = 0.39, P < 0.01). No relationship was found with n-3 fatty acids. We would suggest that n-6 fatty acids, and in particular arachidonic acid, modify the membrane environment of the insulin receptor (or the glucose transporters) so that lower levels of insulin are required for glucose homeostasis.
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