Context: Large increases in systemic free fatty acid (FFA) availability in the absence of a corresponding increase in fatty acid oxidation can create a host of metabolic abnormalities. These adverse responses are thought to be the result of fatty acids being shunted into hepatic very low-density lipoprotein-triglyceride production and/or intracellular lipid storage and signaling pathways because tissues are forced to increase nonoxidative FFA disposal.
Objective: The objective of the study was to examine whether variations in postabsorptive nonoxidative FFA disposal within the usual range predict insulin resistance and hypertriglyceridemia.
Design: We measured: systemic FFA turnover using a continuous iv infusion of [9-10, (3)H]palmitate; substrate oxidation with indirect calorimetry combined with urinary nitrogen excretion; whole-body and peripheral insulin sensitivity with the labeled iv glucose tolerance test minimal model.
Setting: the study was conducted at the Mayo Clinic General Clinical Research Center.
Participants: Participants included healthy, postabsorptive, nonobese adults (21 women and 21 men).
Interventions: There were no interventions.
Main outcome measures: Nonoxidative FFA disposal (micromoles per minute), defined as the FFA disappearance rate minus fatty acid oxidation.
Results: Women had 64% greater nonoxidative FFA disposal rate than men but a better lipid profile and similar insulin sensitivity. There was no significant correlation between nonoxidative FFA disposal and whole-body sensitivity, peripheral insulin sensitivity, or fasting serum triglyceride concentrations in men or women.
Conclusions: Healthy nonobese women have greater rates of nonoxidative FFA disposal than men, but this does not appear to relate to adverse health consequences. Understanding the sex-specific interaction between adipose tissue lipolysis and peripheral FFA removal will help to discover new approaches to treat FFA-induced abnormalities.