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Altered Fat Metabolism Seen in Relatives of Diabetics

Insulin-sensitive subjects with strong family history of diabetes have impaired fat metabolism

THURSDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Individuals with a family history of diabetes but normal insulin sensitivity have a limited ability to increase fatty acid oxidation in response to a high-fat meal, researchers report in the August issue of Diabetes.

Leonie K. Heilbronn, Ph.D., of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in New South Wales, Australia, and colleagues compared the lipid gene transcription and oxidation of fat in seven insulin-sensitive individuals with a strong family history of type 2 diabetes and five matched controls without a family history of diabetes. The researchers took biopsies of the vastus lateralis muscle before and three hours after a meal for analysis.

There was no difference between groups in insulin sensitivity and fat oxidation during fasting. However, subjects with a family history of diabetes had an impaired ability to increase fatty acid oxidation in response to a high-fat meal. This corresponded to a decreased ability to upregulate genes involved in lipid metabolism, including PGC1α and FAT/CD36.

"This study suggests that metabolic flexibility may be involved in the development of insulin resistance in genetically susceptible individuals and that defective regulation of PGC1α and FAT/CD36 may also be involved in this response," the authors conclude.

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