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Fatty Acids, Leucine May Preserve β-Cell Function

WEDNESDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and leucine intake are positively associated with fasting C-peptide (FCP) concentrations in young patients with type 1 diabetes, according to a study published in the July issue of Diabetes Care.

Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues assessed data from 1,316 youth with autoantibody-positive type 1 diabetes participating in the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study. Participants had average baseline disease duration of 9.9 months. Breastfeeding and age at introduction of complementary foods; baseline plasma long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), vitamin D, and vitamin E; and estimated intake of the branched-chain amino acid leucine and total carbohydrate were measured as nutritional exposures. The correlation between baseline FCP levels and each nutritional factor was assessed after adjustment for demographics, disease-related factors, and other confounding variables. A subset of participants with preserved β-cell function at baseline (FCP ≥ 0.23 ng/mL) were included in prospective analyses (mean follow-up, 24.3 months; 656 participants), with additional adjustment for baseline FCP and time.

At follow-up, the researchers found that baseline EPA, EPA plus DHA, and leucine correlated positively and significantly with FCP in adjusted prospective analyses. There was a significant inverse relationship between vitamin D and FCP.

"Increased intake of branched-chain amino acids and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids may support preservation of β-cell function," the authors write. "This represents a new direction for research to improve prognosis for type 1 diabetes."

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