Aims/hypothesis: Whether excess glucose (glucotoxicity) and excess non-esterified fatty acids (lipotoxicity) act synergistically or separately to alter beta-cell function on Type 2 diabetes remains controversial. We examined the influence of non-esterified fatty acids, with or without concomitant increased glucose concentrations, on human islet function and on the expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism.
Methods: Human islets isolated from non-diabetic and non-obese donors were cultured with 5.5, 16 or 30 mmol/l glucose, and when appropriate with 1 or 2 mmol/l non-esterified fatty acids. After 48 h, glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, insulin content, triglyceride content and expression of different genes were evaluated.
Results: Non-esterified fatty acids decreased glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, insulin content and increased triglyceride content of human isolated islets, independently from the deleterious effect of glucose. Increased glucose concentrations also decreased glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and insulin content, but had no influence on triglyceride content. Glucose-stimulated insulin secretion of islets appeared to be significantly correlated with their triglyceride content. Glucose and non-esterified fatty acids modified the gene expression of carnitine palmitoyltransferase-I, acetyl-CoA carboxylase, acyl-CoA oxidase and uncoupling protein 2.
Conclusion/interpretation: In our model of isolated human islets, increased glucose and non-esterified fatty acids separately reproduced the two major beta-cell alterations observed in vivo, i.e. loss of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and reduction in islet insulin content. Our results also suggest that this deleterious effect was, at least in part, mediated by modifications in lipid metabolism gene expression.