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A derivative of omega-3 fatty acids called protectin DX triggers the production and release of interleukin 6 (IL-6) in muscle cells in a manner that is similar to a response that occurs during physical exercise, researchers report (White PJ et al. Nat Med. 2014;20:664-669). Once in the bloodstream, IL-6 controls signals to the liver to reduce glucose production.
Previous work by the team revealed that another protectin—called protectin D1—was responsible for the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids on reducing insulin resistance caused by a diet high in saturated fat. In their latest work, when the investigators treated both obese diabetic rats and transgenic mice lacking the gene encoding IL-6 with protectin DX, they found that treatment significantly improved responsiveness to insulin in obese diabetic rats, but not in the mice that lacked the gene encoding IL-6.
Hampton T. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Derivative May Help Treat Diabetes. JAMA. 2014;312(1):19. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.7709