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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Dec 20;299(5):853-6.

Different role of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in beta-cell apoptosis.

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  • 1Internal Medicine IV, University of Tübingen, Otfried-Müller-Str. 10, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany.


It is believed that free fatty acids contribute to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes in humans. We have recently shown that lipoapoptosis of human beta-cells is specifically induced by saturated fatty acids while unsaturated had no effect. In the present study we tested the effect of co-incubation of different saturated and unsaturated free fatty acids on lipoapoptosis in beta-cells. RIN1046-38 cells and isolated human beta-cells were incubated with combinations of saturated fatty acids (palmitate, stearate) and mono- or polyunsaturated fatty acids (palmitoleate, oleate, and linoleate). Cells were incubated for 24-72 h with 1mM fatty acids. All unsaturated fatty acids tested completely prevented palmitate- or stearate-induced apoptosis of rat and human beta-cells as assessed by flow cytometric cell cycle analysis and TUNEL assay. This might suggest that apoptosis in vivo is predominantly determined by the content of unsaturated fatty acids in a mixed fatty acid pool.

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