Purpose of review: Disturbed fatty acid metabolism and homeostasis is associated with insulin resistance. The aim of this review, therefore, is to summarize recent developments relating to the relevance and importance of the fatty acid transport proteins (FATPs) in the aetiology of insulin resistance. In particular, the potential differences between the six members of the FATP family will be considered.
Recent findings: FATP1 knockout mice failed to develop insulin resistance associated with lipid infusion or a high-fat diet, as wild-type mice did. FATP1-mediated fatty acid uptake may cause intramuscular lipid accumulation leading to insulin resistance in muscle if the fatty acids are not oxidized. While mouse models demonstrated an absolute requirement for FATP4 for survival, they provided no direct evidence for a role of FATP4 in insulin resistance. However, expression of FATP4 in human adipose tissue was increased in obesity (independent of genetic factors). While other members of the FATP family have important roles in fatty acid metabolism, they have not been clearly linked to insulin resistance. FATP-mediated fatty acid uptake may be driven by intrinsic acyl-CoA synthase activity.
Summary: Any role in the development of insulin resistance is likely to be different for each member of the FATP family. So far, both FATP1 and FATP4 have been associated with parameters related to insulin resistance. Whether increased FATP-mediated fatty acid uptake is beneficial or detrimental may be dependent on the tissue in question and on the subsequent fate of the fatty acids. These issues remain to be resolved.