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Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation decreases liver fat content in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A randomised controlled trial employing proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy – Source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Jul 21, 2009

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By Andrea J Cussons, et al. • • September 7, 2009

[Note: Polycystic ovary syndrome affects about 5% of reproductive age females. It is the most common hormonal problem affecting this population and has been associated with elevated risk of liver damage owing to fat accumulation in the liver, diabetes 2, and cardiovascular disease.]

Context: There is an association between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Marine derived omega-3 fatty acids [e.g., fish, krill oil] have favorable effects on cardiovascular risk, and could reduce liver fat in NAFLD.

Objective: The primary aim of this study was to examine the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on liver fat in PCOS. The secondary aim was to assess their effects on traditional cardiovascular risk factors.

Design: Randomized, cross-over study.

Setting: Tertiary cardiovascular research centre.

Subjects: 25 women with PCOS (mean age 32.7 yr, mean body mass index 34.8 kg/m(2)).

Intervention: Comparison of 4g/day of omega-3 fatty acids with placebo over 8 weeks.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was hepatic fat content quantified using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Secondary outcome measures included fasting lipids and blood pressure.


• Omega-3 fatty acids significantly decreased liver fat content compared with placebo (10.2(1.1) v 8.4(0.9)%, p=0.022).

• There was also a reduction in triglycerides (1.19(1.03-1.47) v 1.02(0.93-1.18)mmol/L, p=0.002), systolic blood pressure (124.1(12.1) v 122.3(14.5)mmHg, p=0.018), and diastolic blood pressure (73.2(8.4) v 69.7(8.3)mmHg, p=0.005) with omega-3 fatty acids compared with placebo.

• Omega-3 fatty acids particularly decreased hepatic fat in women with hepatic steatosis, defined as percentage liver fat greater than 5%, (18.2(11.1) v 14.8(9.3)%, p=0.03).

Conclusions: Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has a beneficial effect on liver fat content and other cardiovascular risk factors in women with PCOS, including those with hepatic steatosis. Whether this translates into a reduction in cardiometabolic events warrants further study.

Source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Jul 21, 2009. PMID: 19622617, by Cussons AJ, Watts GF, Mori TA, Stuckey BG. University of Western Australia School of Medicine & Pharmacology, and Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia; Keogh Institute for Medical Research, Nedlands, Western Australia; Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands, Western Australia. [E-mail:]

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