Omega-6 fatty acids are a double-edged sword in metabolism

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Researchers from Mannheim, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, and Hangzhou have made significant progress in understanding the impact of omega-6 fatty acids on health.

Their recent findings, published in the journal Advanced Science, reveal a nuanced picture of how omega-6 fatty acids, commonly regarded as healthy, might play a role in cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Under the leadership of Professor Dr. Jens Kroll at Heidelberg University’s Medical Faculty Mannheim, the team focused on a specific breakdown product of omega-6 fatty acids known as tt-DDE (trans,trans-2,4-decadienal).

This compound, commonly found in cooking oil fumes, has been under scrutiny for its potential health impacts.

Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats essential in our diet, similar to omega-3 fatty acids. They’re believed to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by improving lipid levels and blood pressure.

However, there’s growing concern that an excess of these fatty acids could promote inflammation, potentially leading to vascular calcification and cardiovascular diseases.

The research team approached this topic from a new angle, investigating the oxidation product tt-DDE. They discovered that the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase 9a1b is crucial for breaking down tt-DDE. Inhibiting this enzyme causes a rise in tt-DDE levels.

Using a zebrafish model, the scientists explored the effects of high tt-DDE levels. They found that increased tt-DDE is linked to disrupted sugar metabolism, resembling mild diabetes, and impaired blood vessel function and formation, which are common in diabetes.

The team uncovered the mechanism behind this: tt-DDE binds to the insulin receptor, inhibiting its function. This interference prevents insulin from effectively lowering blood sugar levels, leading to hyperglycemia.

Professor Kroll highlighted the significance of their discovery, stating that aldehyde dehydrogenase 9a1b is not just important in breaking down tt-DDE, but also in regulating glucose metabolism.

This could be a critical factor in diabetes development. The researchers now aim to investigate whether some diabetes patients might be experiencing secondary damage due to high tt-DDE levels.

The key question now is whether mild diabetes in some individuals could be linked to a dysfunction of aldehyde dehydrogenase 9a1b. If so, this enzyme could be a target for new diabetes treatments.

This research marks a crucial step in understanding the complex effects of omega-6 fatty acids on metabolism. It sheds light on how their oxidation products, like tt-DDE, might influence health, potentially changing how we view these widely consumed fatty acids.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about Turmeric compound and vitamin D could improve blood pressure in people with diabetes and findings of Vitamin nutrient supplements may increase fall risk in people with diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about 5 dangerous signs you have diabetes-related eye disease, and results showing why pomegranate is super fruit for people with diabetes.

The research findings can be found in Advanced Science.

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