Dietary fatty acid metabolism in prediabetes

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Purpose of review

Experimental evidences are strong for a role of long-chain saturated fatty acids in the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Ectopic accretion of triglycerides in lean organs is a characteristic of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes and has been linked to end-organ complications. The contribution of disordered dietary fatty acid (DFA) metabolism to lean organ overexposure and lipotoxicity is still unclear, however. DFA metabolism is very complex and very difficult to study in vivo in humans.

Recent findings

We have recently developed a novel imaging method using PET with oral administration of 14-R,S-18F-fluoro-6-thia-heptadecanoic acid (18FTHA) to quantify organ-specific DFA partitioning. Our studies thus far confirmed impaired storage of DFA per volume of fat mass in abdominal adipose tissues of individuals with prediabetes. They also highlighted the increased channeling of DFA toward the heart, associated with subclinical reduction in cardiac systolic and diastolic function in individuals with prediabetes.


In the present review, we summarize previous work on DFA metabolism in healthy and prediabetic states and discuss these in the light of our novel findings using PET imaging of DFA metabolism. We herein provide an integrated view of abnormal organ-specific DFA partitioning in prediabetes in humans.

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