Open Access

Flaxseed oil supplementation manipulates correlations between serum individual mol % free fatty acid levels and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics. Insulin resistance and percent remaining pancreatic β-cell function are unaffected


Objectives. Elevated total serum free fatty acids (FFAs) concentrations have been suggested, controversially, to enhance insulin resistance and decrease percent remaining β-cell function. However, concentrations of individual serum FFAs have never been published in terms of their relationship (correlation) to homeostatic model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and percent remaining β-cell function (HOMA-%β) in the type 2 diabetics (T2Ds). Alpha-linolenic acid consumption has a negative correlation with the insulin resistance, which in turn is negatively correlated with the remaining β-cell function. The primary objective was to test the hypothesis that there would be different relationship (correlation) between the blood serum individual free FFA mol % levels and HOMA-IR and/or HOMA-%β in T2D. The secondary objective was to test the hypothesis that flaxseed oil, previously being shown to be ineffective in the glycemic control in T2Ds, may alter these correlations in a statistically significant manner as well as HOMA-IR and/or HOMA-%β.

Methods. Patients were recruited via a newspaper advertisement and two physicians have been employed. All the patients came to visit one and three months later for a second visit. At the second visit, the subjects were randomly assigned (double blind) to flaxseed or safflower oil treatment for three months, until the third visit.

Results. Different statistically significant correlations or trends towards among some serum individual free FFA mol % levels and HOMA-IR and HOMA-%β, pre- and post-flaxseed and safflower oil supplementation were found. However, flaxseed oil had no impact on HOMA-IR or HOMA-%β despite statistically significant alterations in correlations compared to baseline HOMA-IR.

Conclusions. The obtained data indicate that high doses of flaxseed oil have no statistically significant effect on HOMA-IR or HOMA-%β in T2Ds, probably due to the additive effects of negative and positive correlations.