Both stimulatory and detrimental effects of NEFAs (non-esterified fatty acids) on pancreatic β-cells have been recognized. Acute exposure of the pancreatic β-cell to high glucose concentrations and/or saturated NEFAs results in a substantial increase in insulin release, whereas chronic exposure results in desensitization and suppression of secretion followed by induction of apoptosis. Some unsaturated NEFAs also promote insulin release acutely, but they are less toxic to β-cells during chronic exposure and can even exert positive protective effects. In the present review, we focus on exogenous and endogenous effects of NEFAs, including the polyunsaturated fatty acid, arachidonic acid (or its metabolites generated from cyclo-oxygenase activity), on β-cell metabolism, and have explored the outcomes with respect to β-cell insulin secretion.

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