Docosahexaenoic acid enrichment in NAFLD is associated with improvements in hepatic metabolism and hepatic insulin sensitivity: a pilot study.
Hodson L., Bhatia L., Scorletti E., Smith DE., Jackson NC., Shojaee-Moradie F., Umpleby M., Calder PC., Byrne CD.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Treatment of subjects with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (FAs) suggests high levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) tissue enrichment decrease liver fat content. We assessed whether changes in erythrocyte DHA enrichment (as a surrogate marker of changes in tissue enrichment) were associated with alterations in hepatic de novo lipogenesis (DNL), postprandial FA partitioning and hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity in a sub-study of the WELCOME trial (Wessex Evaluation of fatty Liver and Cardiovascular markers in NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) with OMacor thErapy). SUBJECTS/METHODS: Sixteen participants were randomised to 4 g/day EPA+DHA (n=8) or placebo (n=8) for 15-18 months and underwent pre- and post-intervention measurements. Fasting and postprandial hepatic FA metabolism was assessed using metabolic substrates labelled with stable-isotope tracers (2H2O and [U13C]palmitate). Insulin sensitivity was measured by a stepped hyperinsulinaemic-euglycaemic clamp using deuterated glucose. Participants were stratified according to change in DHA erythrocyte enrichment (< or ⩾2% post intervention). RESULTS: Nine participants were stratified to DHA⩾2% (eight randomised to EPA+DHA and one to placebo) and seven to the DHA<2% group (all placebo). Compared with individuals with erythrocyte <2% change in DHA abundance, those with ⩾2% enrichment had significant improvements in hepatic insulin sensitivity, reduced fasting and postprandial plasma triglyceride concentrations, decreased fasting hepatic DNL, as well as greater appearance of13C from dietary fat into plasma 3-hydroxybutyrate (all P<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The findings from our pilot study indicate that individuals who achieved a change in erythrocyte DHA enrichment ⩾2% show favourable changes in hepatic FA metabolism and insulin sensitivity, which may contribute to decreasing hepatic fat content.