The present study was designed to determine if dietary-fat-induced alterations in the fatty acid composition of skeletal-muscle lipid alters insulin-dependent and basal muscle metabolism, including glucose and amino acid transport, prostaglandin (PG) synthesis and protein turnover. Rats were fed on high-fat semi-purified diets providing 19% or 1% omega 3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil, for 6 weeks. After 3 weeks, half of the rats were made diabetic by a single injection of streptozotocin (50 mg/kg body wt.). After a further 3 weeks, contralateral epitrochlearis and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles from each rat were incubated in vitro. High levels of dietary omega 3 fatty acids decreased PGE2 and PGF2 alpha synthesis in EDL and epitrochlearis muscle (P less than 0.0001). Diabetes and insulin had no effect on PG synthesis. Diet did not alter basal glucose or amino acid transport in EDL muscle from healthy or diabetic rats. Insulin increased glucose and amino acid transport (P less than 0.0001); the increase in glucose transport by insulin was significantly greater in muscles of rats fed on high levels of omega 3 fatty acids (P less than 0.05). Epitrochlearis from rats fed on high levels of omega 3 fatty acids showed decreased net protein degradation in the presence and absence of insulin, owing to decreased rates of protein degradation and synthesis. The data suggest that high levels of dietary omega 3 fatty acids that alter muscle membrane composition also result in alterations in glucose transport and the metabolism of muscle protein.

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