Saturated fatty acids are toxic to pancreatic β-cells. By inducing apoptosis, they contribute to a decrease in β-cell mass, a hallmark of Type 2 diabetes. In the present issue of Clinical Science, Keane and co-workers show that the polyunsaturated fatty acid arachidonic acid protects the β-cell against the toxic effects of palmitate. As Type 2 diabetes is characterized by subclinical inflammation, and arachidonic acid and metabolites thereof are produced during states of inflammation, it is possible that pancreatic β-cells use arachidonic acid as a compound for self-protection.

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