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Diabetologia. 2010 Jul;53(7):1395-405. doi: 10.1007/s00125-010-1707-y. Epub 2010 Apr 6.

Palmitate induces a pro-inflammatory response in human pancreatic islets that mimics CCL2 expression by beta cells in type 2 diabetes.

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  • 1Laboratory of Experimental Medicine, Université Libre de Bruxelles, CP-618, Route de Lennik 808, 1070, Brussels, Belgium.

Erratum in

  • Diabetologia. 2012 Mar;55(3):863.



Beta cell failure is a crucial component in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. One of the proposed mechanisms of beta cell failure is local inflammation, but the presence of pancreatic islet inflammation in type 2 diabetes and the mechanisms involved remain under debate.


Chemokine and cytokine expression was studied by microarray analysis of laser-capture microdissected islets from pancreases obtained from ten non-diabetic and ten type 2 diabetic donors, and by real-time PCR of human islets exposed to oleate or palmitate at 6 or 28 mmol/l glucose. The cellular source of the chemokines was analysed by immunofluorescence of pancreatic sections from individuals without diabetes and with type 2 diabetes.


Microarray analysis of laser-capture microdissected beta cells showed increased chemokine and cytokine expression in type 2 diabetes compared with non-diabetic controls. The inflammatory response in type 2 diabetes was mimicked by exposure of non-diabetic human islets to palmitate, but not to oleate or high glucose, leading to the induction of IL-1beta, TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-8, chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 1 (CXCL1) and chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2). Interference with IL-1beta signalling abolished palmitate-induced cytokine and chemokine expression but failed to prevent lipotoxic human islet cell death. Palmitate activated nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) in human pancreatic beta and non-beta cells, and chemically induced endoplasmic reticulum stress caused cytokine expression and NF-kappaB activation similar to that occurring with palmitate.


Saturated-fatty-acid-induced NF-kappaB activation and endoplasmic reticulum stress may contribute to IL-1beta production and mild islet inflammation in type 2 diabetes. This inflammatory process does not contribute to lipotoxicity ex vivo, but may lead to local chemokine release.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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