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Endocrinology. 2009 Dec;150(12):5218-29. doi: 10.1210/en.2009-0543. Epub 2009 Oct 9.

Free fatty acids induce a proinflammatory response in islets via the abundantly expressed interleukin-1 receptor I.

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Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, University Hospital, CH-8091 Zurich, Switzerland. marianne.


Islets of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) display features of an inflammatory process including elevated levels of the cytokine IL-1beta, various chemokines, and macrophages. IL-1beta is a master regulator of inflammation, and IL-1 receptor type I (IL-1RI) blockage improves glycemia and insulin secretion in humans with T2DM and in high-fat-fed mice pointing to a pivotal role of IL-1RI activity in intra-islet inflammation. Given the association of dyslipidemia and T2DM, we tested whether free fatty acids (FFA) promote the expression of proinflammatory factors in human and mouse islets and investigated a role for the IL-1RI in this response. A comparison of 22 mouse tissues revealed the highest IL-1RI expression levels in islets and MIN6 beta-cells. FFA induced IL-1beta, IL-6, and IL-8 in human islets and IL-1beta and KC in mouse islets. Elevated glucose concentrations enhanced FFA-induced proinflammatory factors in human islets. Blocking the IL-1RI with the IL-1R antagonist (IL-1Ra) strongly inhibited FFA-mediated expression of proinflammatory factors in human and mouse islets. Antibody inhibition of IL-1beta revealed that FFA stimulated IL-1RI activity via the induction of the receptor ligand. FFA-induced IL-1beta and KC expression in mouse islets was completely dependent on the IL-1R/Toll-like receptor (TLR) docking protein Myd88 and partly dependent on TLR2 and -4. Activation of TLR2 in purified human beta-cells and islets stimulated the expression of proinflammatory factors, and IL-1RI activity increased the TLR2 response in human islets. We conclude that FFA and TLR stimulation induce proinflammatory factors in islets and that IL-1RI engagement results in signal amplification.

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