Acute elevation of free fatty acid levels leads to hepatic insulin resistance in obese subjects

Metabolism. 1987 May;36(5):502-6. doi: 10.1016/0026-0495(87)90051-5.


Raised levels of free fatty acids (FFA) compete with glucose for utilization by insulin-sensitive tissues, and, therefore, they may induce insulin resistance in the normal subject. The influence of experimental elevations in FFA levels on glucose metabolism in native insulin-resistant states is not known. We studied seven women with moderate obesity (63% above their ideal body weight) but normal glucose tolerance with the use of the insulin clamp technique with or without an infusion of Intralipid + heparin. Upon raising plasma insulin levels to approximately 60 microU/mL while maintaining euglycemia, whole body glucose utilization (3H-3-glucose) rose similarly without (from 66 +/- 7 to 113 +/- 11 mg/min m2, P less than .02) or with (from 70 +/- 7 to 137 +/- 19 mg/min m2, P less than .02) concomitant lipid infusion. In contrast, endogenous glucose production was considerably (73%) suppressed (from 66 +/- 7 to 15 +/- 8 mg/min m2, P less than .001) during the clamp without lipid, but declined only marginally (from 70 +/- 7 to 48 +/- 7 mg/min m2, NS) with lipid administration. The difference between the control and the lipid study was highly significant (P less than .02), and amounted to an average of 3.8 g of relative glucose overproduction during the second hour of the clamp. Blood levels of lactate rose by 34 +/- 15% (.1 greater than P greater than .05) in the control study but only by 17 +/- 10% (NS) during lipid infusion. Blood pyruvate concentrations fell in both sets of experiments (by approximately 45% at the end of the study) with similar time courses.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Fasting
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / metabolism*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Insulin
  • Glucose