Free fatty acids and insulin secretion in humans

Curr Diab Rep. 2005 Jun;5(3):167-70. doi: 10.1007/s11892-005-0004-5.


Acute increases in plasma levels of long-chain fatty acids raise plasma insulin levels by stimulating insulin secretion or by decreasing insulin clearance. In normal subjects, long-term elevations of fatty acids also stimulate insulin secretion. In fact, they increase insulin precisely to the degree needed to compensate for the fatty acid-induced insulin resistance. In contrast, in individuals who are genetically predisposed to develop type 2 diabetes (prediabetic subjects), the free fatty acid (FFA) stimulation of insulin secretion is not sufficient to fully compensate for the FFA-induced insulin resistance. Therefore, obesity, if associated with elevated fatty acid levels, may lead to hyperglycemia in prediabetic but not in normal individuals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Prediabetic State / blood


  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Insulin