Loss-of-Function Mutations in ABCA1 and Enhanced β-Cell Secretory Capacity in Young Adults

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Loss-of-function mutations affecting the cholesterol transporter ATP-binding cassette transporter subfamily A member 1 (ABCA1) impair cellular cholesterol efflux and are associated with reduced HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) levels. ABCA1 may also be important in regulating β-cell cholesterol homeostasis and insulin secretion. We sought to determine whether loss-of-function ABCA1 mutations affect β-cell secretory capacity in humans by performing glucose-potentiated arginine tests in three subjects homozygous for ABCA1 mutations (age 25 ± 11 years), eight heterozygous subjects (28 ± 7 years), and eight normal control subjects pair-matched to the heterozygous carriers. To account for any effect of low HDL-C on insulin secretion, we studied nine subjects with isolated low HDL-C with no ABCA1 mutations (age 26 ± 6 years) and nine pair-matched control subjects. Homozygotes for ABCA1 mutations exhibited enhanced oral glucose tolerance and dramatically increased β-cell secretory capacity that was also greater in ABCA1 heterozygous subjects than in control subjects, with no differences in insulin sensitivity. Isolated low HDL-C subjects also demonstrated an increase in β-cell secretory capacity but in contrast to those with ABCA1 mutations, exhibited impaired insulin sensitivity, supporting β-cell compensation for increased insulin demand. These data indicate that loss-of-function mutations in ABCA1 in young adults may be associated with enhanced β-cell secretory capacity and normal insulin sensitivity and support the importance of cellular cholesterol homeostasis in regulating β-cell insulin secretion.

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