Addition of exogenous sodium palmitate increases the IAPP/insulin mRNA ratio via GPR40 in human EndoC-βH1 cells

<p><b>Background:</b> Enhanced IAPP production may contribute to islet amyloid formation in type 2 diabetes. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of the saturated fatty acid palmitate on IAPP levels in human β-cells.</p> <p><b>Methods:</b> EndoC-βH1 cells and human islets were cultured in the presence of sodium palmitate. Effects on IAPP/insulin mRNA expression and secretion were determined using real-time qPCR/ELISA. Pharmacological activators and/or inhibitors and RNAi were used to determine the underlying mechanisms.</p> <p><b>Results:</b> We observed that EndoC-βH1 cells exposed to palmitate for 72 h displayed decreased expression of Pdx-1 and MafA and increased expression of thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP), reduced insulin mRNA expression and glucose-induced insulin secretion, as well as increased <i>IAPP</i> mRNA expression and secretion. Further, these effects were independent of fatty acid oxidation, but abolished in response to GPR40 inhibition/downregulation. In human islets both a high glucose concentration and palmitate promoted increased IAPP mRNA levels, resulting in an augmented IAPP/insulin mRNA ratio. This was paralleled by elevated IAPP/insulin protein secretion and content ratios.</p> <p><b>Conclusions:</b> Addition of exogenous palmitate to human β-cells increased the IAPP/insulin expression ratio, an effect contributed to by activation of GPR40. These findings may be pertinent to our understanding of the islet amyloid formation process.</p>