Influence of endogenous NEFA on beta cell function in humans

Eleni Rebelos, Marta Seghieri, Andrea Natali, Beverly Balkau, Alain Golay, Pier Marco Piatti, Nebojsa M. Lalic, Markku Laakso, Andrea Mari, Ele Ferrannini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims/hypothesis: It is a commonly held view that chronically elevated NEFA levels adversely affect insulin secretion and insulin action (lipotoxicity). However, the effect of NEFA on beta cell function has only been explored using acute NEFA elevations. Our aim was to analyse the relationship between endogenous NEFA levels and beta cell function. Methods: In 1,267 individuals followed-up for 3 years, we measured insulin sensitivity (by clamp) and beta cell function (by C-peptide modelling during OGTT and as the acute insulin response [AIR] to IVGTT). Results: At baseline, both fasting and insulin-suppressed NEFA levels were higher across glucose tolerance groups, while insulin sensitivity was lower, insulin output was higher, and beta cell glucose sensitivity and AIR were lower (all p <0.0001). In multiple logistic analyses adjusting for age, BMI, WHR and glucose tolerance, both fasting and insulin-suppressed NEFA levels were inversely related to insulin sensitivity, as expected (both p <0.0001). Furthermore, after adjusting for insulin sensitivity, insulin-suppressed NEFA were positively associated with total insulin output (p = 0.0042). In contrast, neither fasting nor insulin-suppressed NEFA were related to beta cell glucose sensitivity or AIR. At follow-up, worsening of glucose tolerance (n = 126) was predicted by lower insulin and beta cell glucose sensitivity. In this model, baseline NEFA were not significant predictors of progression. Conclusions/interpretation: In the non-diabetic state and in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance, circulating endogenous NEFA are not independently associated measures of beta cell function, and do not predict deterioration of glucose tolerance. Thus, in the Relationship Between Insulin Sensitivity and Cardiovascular Disease (RISC) cohort there is no evidence for beta cell lipotoxicity of endogenous total NEFA concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2344-2351
Number of pages8
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 24 2015


  • Beta cell function
  • Beta cell glucose sensitivity
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Insulin resistance
  • Lipotoxicity
  • NEFA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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