To measure effects of fish oil supplements on lipoprotein subclasses by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) in subjects with type II diabetes and relate them to insulin sensitivity.

Two-armed, parallel, placebo-controlled, randomized.

Normotriglyceridemic subjects with type II diabetes without insulin treatment were given either fish oil (n=12, median intake 5.9 g/day total n-3 fatty acids (FA) (1.8 g 20:5n-3, 3.0 g 22:6n-3)) or corn oil (n=14, 8.5 g/day 18:2n-6 FA).

Size and concentration of lipoproteins subclasses were measured by NMR, insulin sensitivity by hyperinsulinemic, isoglycemic clamps.

After 9 weeks, there were differences between those treated with fish and corn oil with respect to very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) size (median -15 vs +0.6%, P=0.001), particle concentrations of large VLDL (-99 vs -4.1%, P=0.041) and small high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (-12 vs +10%, P=0.051). Compared with corn oil fish oil tended to increase HDL size and small low-density lipoprotein (LDL) concentration (P=0.063 and 0.068, respectively, for differences between groups). There was no effect on oxidized LDL. Insulin sensitivity (glucose utilization) decreased in the fish oil group compared with the corn oil group (P=0.049). The decrease in insulin sensitivity did not correlate with the effects on lipoprotein subclasses.

A high intake of n-3 FA exerts effects on several lipoprotein subclasses without obvious influence from changes in insulin sensitivity.