Normal Postprandial Nonesterified Fatty Acid Uptake in Muscles Despite Increased Circulating Fatty Acids in Type 2 Diabetes

  1. André C. Carpentier1
  1. 1Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada
  2. 2Department of Nuclear Medicine and Radiobiology, Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada
  1. Corresponding author: André C. Carpentier, andre.carpentier{at}


OBJECTIVE Postprandial plasma nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) appearance is increased in type 2 diabetes. Our objective was to determine whether skeletal muscle uptake of plasma NEFA is abnormal during the postprandial state in type 2 diabetes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Thigh muscle blood flow and oxidative metabolism indexes and NEFA uptake were determined using positron emission tomography coupled with computed tomography (PET/CT) with [11C]acetate and 14(R,S)-[18F]fluoro-6-thia-heptadecanoic acid (18FTHA) in seven healthy control subjects (CON) and seven subjects with type 2 diabetes during continuous oral intake of a liquid meal to achieve steady postprandial NEFA levels with insulin infusion to maintain similar plasma glucose levels in both groups.

RESULTS In the postprandial state, plasma NEFA level was higher in type 2 diabetic subjects versus CON (P < 0.01), whereas plasma glucose was at the same level in both groups. Muscle NEFA fractional extraction and blood flow index levels were 56% (P < 0.05) and 24% (P = 0.27) lower in type 2 diabetes, respectively. However, muscle NEFA uptake was similar to that of CON (quadriceps femoris [QF] 1.47 ± 0.23 vs. 1.37 ± 0.24 nmol ⋅ g−1 ⋅ min−1, P = 0.77; biceps femoris [BF] 1.54 ± 0.26 vs. 1.46 ± 0.28 nmol ⋅ g−1 ⋅ min−1, P = 0.85). Muscle oxidative metabolism was similar in both groups. Muscle NEFA fractional extraction and blood flow index were strongly and positively correlated (r = 0.79, P < 0.005).

CONCLUSIONS Postprandial muscle NEFA uptake is normal despite elevated systemic NEFA levels and acute normalization of plasma glucose in type 2 diabetes. Lower postprandial muscle blood flow with resulting reduction in muscle NEFA fractional extraction may explain this phenomenon.


  • Received July 16, 2010.
  • Accepted October 30, 2010.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 60 no. 2 408-415
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