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Diabetologia. 2008 Jan;51(1):139-46. Epub 2007 Nov 17.

Oral taurine but not N-acetylcysteine ameliorates NEFA-induced impairment in insulin sensitivity and beta cell function in obese and overweight, non-diabetic men.

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Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.



Antioxidants have been shown to ameliorate lipid-induced impairment of insulin action and beta cell function, both in vitro and in animal studies. The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of two orally administered antioxidants, N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and taurine (TAU), on lipotoxicity in humans.


Nine non-diabetic men, who were either overweight or obese, underwent three studies each, 4-6 weeks apart, in random order: (1) i.v. infusion of saline for 48 h (SAL); (2) i.v. infusion of Intralipid and heparin for 48 h to mimic chronic elevation of plasma NEFA (IH); and (3) IH infusion for 48 h with concurrent oral NAC (IH+NAC). Six men underwent similar studies except for study 3, where instead of NAC they received a 2 week pretreatment with oral TAU (IH+TAU).


For both the NAC and TAU studies, a 48 h IH infusion alone without antioxidant impaired insulin sensitivity (S(I), 63% and 62% of SAL in NAC and TAU studies, respectively) and beta cell function, as evidenced by a reduction in disposition index (DI, 55% and 54% of SAL in NAC and TAU studies, respectively). NAC failed to prevent the lipid-induced increase in levels of the plasma oxidative stress marker malondialdehyde and did not prevent the lipid-induced reduction in S(I) or DI, whereas TAU completely prevented the rise in malondialdehyde and decreased 4-hydroxynonenal, and significantly improved S(I) (91% of SAL) and DI (81% of SAL).


Oral TAU ameliorates lipid-induced functional beta cell decompensation and insulin resistance in humans, possibly by reducing oxidative stress.


[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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