Purpose of review: To briefly summarize recent advances towards understanding the influence of major dietary fatty acids on β-cell function and evaluate their implications for insulin resistance.
Recent findings: Studies in humans have shown that β-cell function and insulin sensitivity improve progressively in the postprandial period as the proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) with respect to saturated fatty acids (SFAs) in dietary fats increases. However, cell-culture experiments have revealed a dichotomy in the ability of fatty acids to moderate hyperactivity of, and induce lipotoxicity in, β-cells. There are also some novel findings regarding the ability of HDL to protect β-cells against oxidized LDL-induced apoptosis in vitro and of reconstituted HDL to attenuate insulin resistance in vivo. These findings raise new questions regarding the contribution of dietary fatty acids to insulin secretion and action.
Summary: These new findings point to a critical role for major dietary fatty acids in the etiology and pathogenesis of diabetes, which appears to be of particular relevance during postprandial periods and mainly depends on the fatty acid type. This underscores the importance of dietary fatty acids in standard diabetes management.