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Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Nov;100(5):1222-31. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.092023. Epub 2014 Aug 20.

Postprandial lipemia induces pancreatic α cell dysfunction characteristic of type 2 diabetes: studies in healthy subjects, mouse pancreatic islets, and cultured pancreatic α cells.

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From the Department of Internal Medicine I, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria (AN, CC, TT, MIK, RA-Z, KS, and MTP); KMT Laboratory, Department of Visceral, Transplant and Thoracic Surgery, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria (MH); and the Clinical Department of Surgery, Hospital of Barmherzige Brüder, Salzburg, Austria (CM).



Type 2 diabetes is associated with pancreatic α cell dysfunction, characterized by elevated fasting plasma glucagon concentrations and inadequate postprandial glucose- and insulin-induced suppression of glucagon secretion. The cause and the underlying mechanisms of α cell dysfunction are unknown.


Because Western dietary habits cause postprandial lipemia for a major part of a day and, moreover, increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, we tested the hypothesis that postprandial lipemia with its characteristic elevation of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins (TGRLs) might cause pancreatic α cell dysfunction.


In a crossover study with 7 healthy volunteers, 2 experiments using 2 fat-enriched meals were performed on each volunteer; meal 1 was designed to increase plasma concentrations of both TGRLs and nonesterified fatty acids and meal 2 to increase TGRLs only. Intravenous glucose boli were injected at 0800 after an overnight fast and postprandially at 1300, 3 h after ingestion of a fat-enriched meal. Glucagon concentrations were measured throughout the days of the experiments. In addition to the study in humans, in vitro experiments were performed with mouse pancreatic islets and cultured pancreatic alpha TC 1 clone 9 (αTC1c9) cells, which were incubated with highly purified TGRLs.


In humans, postprandial lipemia increased plasma glucagon concentrations and led to an inadequate glucose- and insulin-induced suppression of glucagon. There was no difference between the 2 meal types. In mouse pancreatic islets and cultured pancreatic αTC1c9 cells, purified postprandial TGRLs induced abnormalities in glucagon kinetics comparable with those observed in humans. The TGRL-induced α cell dysfunction was due to reduced γ-aminobutyric acid A receptor activation in pancreatic α cells.


We concluded that postprandial lipemia induces pancreatic α cell dysfunction characteristic of type 2 diabetes and, therefore, propose that pancreatic α cell dysfunction could be viewed, at least partly, as a postprandial phenomenon.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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