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Endocrinology. 2008 Jul;149(7):3679-87. doi: 10.1210/en.2007-1138. Epub 2008 Mar 27.

Elevation in intracellular long-chain acyl-coenzyme A esters lead to reduced beta-cell excitability via activation of adenosine 5'-triphosphate-sensitive potassium channels.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Closure of pancreatic beta-cell ATP-sensitive potassium (K(ATP)) channels links glucose metabolism to electrical activity and insulin secretion. It is now known that saturated, but not polyunsaturated, long-chain acyl-coenyzme A esters (acyl-CoAs) can potently activate K(ATP) channels when superfused directly across excised membrane patches, suggesting a plausible mechanism to account for reduced beta-cell excitability and insulin secretion observed in obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, reduced beta-cell excitability due to elevation of endogenous saturated acyl-CoAs has not been confirmed in intact pancreatic beta-cells. To test this notion directly, endogenous acyl-CoA levels were elevated within primary mouse beta-cells using virally delivered overexpression of long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase-1 (AdACSL-1), and the effects on beta-cell K(ATP) channel activity and cell excitability was assessed using the perforated whole-cell and cell-attached patch-clamp technique. Data indicated a significant increase in K(ATP) channel activity in AdACSL-1-infected beta-cells cultured in medium supplemented with palmitate/oleate but not with the polyunsaturated fat linoleate. No changes in the ATP/ADP ratio were observed in any of the groups. Furthermore, AdACSL-1-infected beta-cells (with palmitate/oleate) showed a significant decrease in electrical responsiveness to glucose and tolbutamide and a hyperpolarized resting membrane potential at 5 mm glucose. These results suggest a direct link between intracellular fatty ester accumulation and K(ATP) channel activation, which may contribute to beta-cell dysfunction in type 2 diabetes.

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