Reduced delta-6 desaturase activity partially protects against high-fat diet-induced impairment in whole-body glucose tolerance

Barbora Hucik, Ousseynou Sarr, Manabu T. Nakamura, David J. Dyck, David M. Mutch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Delta-6 desaturase (D6D), which is encoded by the fatty acid desaturase (Fads2) gene, is the rate-limiting enzyme for the endogenous production of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. The absence of D6D activity in Fads2 −/− knockout mice results in the inability to produce eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, and has previously been associated with altered glucose and lipid metabolism. Skeletal muscle is a major site for insulin-stimulated glucose disposal; however, the consequences of reduced D6D activity on skeletal muscle metabolism are unknown. The objective of this study was to examine the role of a partial reduction in D6D activity on whole-body glucose tolerance, skeletal muscle fatty acid profiles and protein content of key markers of carbohydrate and fat signaling pathways in the context of both low- and high-fat diets. Male C57BL/6J heterozygous (Fads2 +/− ) and wild-type (WT) mice were fed either a low-fat (16% kcal from fat) or high-fat (HFD; 45% kcal from fat) diet for 21 weeks. Fads2 +/− mice were protected from the HFD-induced impairment in glucose tolerance. Unexpectedly, HFD-fed Fads2 +/− mice had reduced GLUT4 skeletal muscle protein content compared to their WT counterparts. No changes were detected in total protein content of key markers of fatty acid uptake, glycogen formation or substrate oxidation. This study shows that reduced D6D activity is partially protective against HFD-induced impairments in whole-body glucose tolerance but does not appear to be due to increased muscle GLUT4 content or total content of proteins regulating substrate utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-181
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Fads2
  • Fatty acids
  • Glucose tolerance
  • High-fat diet
  • Insulin signaling
  • Skeletal muscle
  • delta-6 Desaturase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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