Saturated fatty acids and insulin resistance

J Med Invest. 2009 Aug;56(3-4):88-92. doi: 10.2152/jmi.56.88.


Insulin resistance is one of the pathophysiological features of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Recent findings have linked insulin resistance to chronic low-grade inflammation in white adipose tissue. Excess storage of saturated fat in white adipose tissue due to a modern life style causes hypertrophy and hyperplasia of adipocytes, which exhibit attenuated insulin signaling due to their production and release of saturated fatty acids. These adipocytes recruit macrophages to white adipose tissue and, together with them, initiate a proinflammatory response. Proinflammatory factors and saturated fatty acids secreted into the bloodstream from white adipose tissue impair insulin signaling in non-adipose tissues, which causes whole-body insulin resistance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, White / physiology
  • Endocrine System / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Fatty Acids