The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) supplementation on metabolic state and gene expression in subcutaneous adipose tissues of obese adolescents.

Obese adolescents (n = 26, 10 girls and 16 boys) aged 12.4 ± 2.1 years were assigned to a 12-week regimen of n-3 PUFA intake. Five times per day, subjects received a food supplement consisting of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (3 g per day, 944 mg EPA, and 2,088 mg DHA). Blood parameters were measured, and subcutaneous adipose tissue biopsies were analyzed to determine gene expression at baseline and after 12 weeks. Student's t test and the Wilcoxon signed-rank test were used to estimate differences in arithmetic means of pre- and post-dietary supplementation for various anthropometric, biochemical, clinical, and gene expression parameters.

After 12 weeks, n-3 PUFA consumption was associated with decreased body mass index (29.7 ± 4.6 vs. 27.8 ± 4.4 kg/m(2); P < 0.001), waist circumference (93.2 ± 9.9 vs. 90.5 ± 10.0 cm; P < 0.003), hip circumference (102.9 ± 10.9 vs. 101.1 ± 10.9 cm; P < 0.014), and blood triglyceride levels (220.8 ± 27.4 vs. 99.7 ± 32.7 mg/dL; P < 0.001).

Fatty acid supplementation/n3 PUFA supplementation was associated with a down-regulated expression of the genes encoding PPARγ and PGC-1α (P < 0.001), and an up-regulated expression of the genes encoding PPARα (P < 0.007) and SREBP1 (P < 0.021). The expressions of SOD2 (P < 0.04), CAT (P < 0.001), GPX3 (P < 0.032) and HIF-1α protein also decreased.

Our study demonstrated that n-3 PUFA consumption and dietary restriction improved the anthropometric parameters and decreased the triglycerides levels of the adolescents, suggesting a reduction in hypoxia in subcutaneous adipose tissue.