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Researchers Discover Why Omega-3s Reduce Inflammation, Insulin Resistance

September 2, 2010: 12:25 PM EST
U.S. researchers have shed light on the molecular process that makes omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils so successful at reducing chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. Working with mice, the team identified a key receptor on the specialized white blood cells that engulf and digest cellular debris and pathogens. Known as macrophages, the cells are abundant in obese body fat. The omega-3 fatty acids – specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – activate the macrophage receptor (GPR120), leading to extensive anti-inflammatory effects and improved systemic insulin sensitivity. According to the researchers, the discovery could lead to development of a simple dietary remedy for the more than 23 million American diabetics. More research is needed to find out how much fish oil provides a safe, effective dose, they said.
Jerrold Olefsky, M.D., et al., "GPR120 Is an Omega-3 Fatty Acid Receptor Mediating Potent Anti-inflammatory and Insulin-Sensitizing Effects", Cell, September 02, 2010, © Elsevier Inc.
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