A Distinct Fatty Acid Profile Underlies the Reduced Inflammatory State of Metabolically Healthy Obese Individuals Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Obesity is associated with numerous health complications; however, a subgroup of obese individuals (termed the metabolically healthy obese or MHO) appear to have lower risk for complications such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Emerging evidence suggests that MHO individuals have reduced inflammation compared to their metabolically unhealthy obese (MUO) counterparts. As it is recognized that fatty acids (FAs) have a strong relationship with inflammation, the current study aimed to uncover if the reduced inflammation observed in MHO individuals is mirrored by a more favourable FA profile. METHODS: Fasted serum samples were collected from lean healthy (LH), MHO, and MUO participants (n = 10/group) recruited from the Diabetes Risk Assessment study. A panel of pro- and anti-inflammatory markers were measured by immunoassay. Total serum FA profiling, as well as the FA composition of circulating phospholipids (PL) and triglycerides (TG), was measured by gas chromatography. ANOVA and Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon tests were used to assess statistical significance between the groups (P<0.05). RESULTS: MHO and MUO individuals had similar BMI and body fat %; however, lipid parameters in MHO individuals more closely resembled that of LH individuals. MHO individuals had circulating levels of high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) similar to LH individuals, while levels of platelet derived growth factor-ββ (PDGF-ββ) were intermediate to that of LH and MUO individuals. FA profiling analysis combined with discriminant analysis modelling highlighted a panel of nine FAs (consisting of three saturated, three monounsaturated, and three polyunsaturated FAs) in PL and TG fractions that distinguished the three groups. Specifically, saturated FA (myristic and stearic acids) levels in MHO individuals resembled that of LH individuals. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the reduced inflammatory state of MHO individuals compared to MUO individuals may stem, in part, from a more favourable underlying FA profile.


  • Perreault, Maude
  • Zulyniak, Michael A
  • Badoud, Flavia
  • Stephenson, Susan
  • Badawi, Alaa
  • Buchholz, Andrea
  • Mutch, David M

publication date

  • 2014