Diabetes 2013 July-14

Changes in the Fatty Acid Composition under Conditions of Polyneuropathy Related to Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus.

Neurophysiology. 2012 Dec;44(6):487-489.

Osipenko A.N., Orlov D.A., Akulich N.V.

Kuleshov Mogilev State University, Mogilev Regional Children’s Hospital, Mogilev, Belarus.




We analyzed the composition of fatty acids in blood plasma of teenagers suffering from polyneuropathy and microangiopathy developed against the background of type 1 diabetes mellitus. It was found that the normalized contents of oleic (monounsaturated) and palmitic (saturated) fatty acids increase in this case, while the levels of stearic (saturated) and linoleic (polyunsaturated) acids decrease, as compared to the norm. These shifts can be related to intensification of release of lipids from adipose tissues and result in disorders of the metabolic processes in nerve cells (first of all, in their membranes). Changes in the balance of fatty acids in erythrocytes of the examined patients appeared as a decrease in the level of saturated stearic acid and increases in the levels of saturated palmitic and polyunsaturated linoleic acids. A relative decrease in the sum of levels of dihomo-γ-linolenic and docosahexaenoic polyunsaturated fatty acids was also found. The observed changes in the composition of the cell membranes (those of erythrocytes) can be indicative of the existence of systemic cellular membranopathy under conditions of the above-mentioned pathologies. Decreased activities of Δ6- and Δ5-desaturases under conditions of insulin deficiency can be one of the reasons for these disorders.

Keywords: type 1 diabetes mellitus, diabetic polyneuropathy, microangiopathy, fatty acids, systemic membranopathy, gas-liquid chromatography.


Press release:

Insulin deficiency in type 1 diabetes mellitus leads to change in fatty acid composition of blood plasma through the activation of lipolysis and change in fatty acid composition of erythrocyte membrane by reducing the activity of Δ6-and Δ5-desaturases.

Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most severe and widespread complications of diabetes mellitus (DM). This circumstance, together with a significant increase of the frequency of this disease, explains the great attention to different aspects of neurodiabetology. The development of clearly manifested metabolic disorders within a short time period is usually observed in type 1 DM.

Despite definite successes in the studies of the above circle of problems, the accessible information on the pattern of changes in the fatty acid (FA) balance under DM-1 conditions, on the effects of the above modifications on the properties of the cell membranes, and on the role of such changes in the development of neuropathy is fragmentary and contradictory to a significant extent.

In our study, we tried to elucidate the effects of DM-1 complicated by polyneuropathy and microangiopathy on the FA composition in erythrocyte preparations and in blood plasma lipids. Our measurements showed that the specificity of the FA composition in DM-1 can be related to activation of the lipolysis processes in the organism. We believe that a high amount of lipids with monounsaturated FAs is released in DM-1 by adipocytes, and some deficiency of polyunsaturated FAs (PUFAs) is formed in cells of the vascular endothelium. As a result, the respective changes in metabolism of eicosanoids should develop in these cells. This, in turn, can be one of the reasons of disorders in the microcirculation processes and metabolic disturbances in nerve cells.

The above-described peculiarities of the FA balance in blood plasma can also serve as data for the development of criteria for estimation of the pathological process.

Analysis of the FA composition in the erythrocyte mass showed that complicated DM-1 is characterized by a greater content of saturated palmitic FA and smaller amounts of saturated stearic acid. These shifts, as we believe, can be explained by the specificity of developed dyslipidemia. On the other hand, in the erythrocytes of the patients we observed a greater amount of linoleic PUFA. At the same time, the sum of amounts of dihomo-γ-linolenic and docosahexaenoic PUFAs was smaller. These changes in the FA balance in erythrocytes can be explained by decreased activity of Δ6- and Δ5-desaturases under conditions of insulin deficiency. We should also mention that we found no changes in the level of arachidonic acid in erythrocytes. This fact can be explained by a sufficient dietary intake of this FA; this can also be considered proof of a proinflammatory pattern of changes related to the examined pathology.

In general, the observed shifts in the FA balance in the erythrocyte membranes should correlate with the respective changes in nerve cells. These shifts indicate that complicated DM-1 results in the development of systemic membranopathy; the latter is related to a deficiency of PUFAs that are important for normal functioning of all types of cells (including neurons and gliocytes).

Multiselect Ultimate Query Plugin by InoPlugs Web Design Vienna | Webdesign Wien and Juwelier SchönmannMultiselect Ultimate Query Plugin by InoPlugs Web Design Vienna | Webdesign Wien and Juwelier Schönmann