Biochimica et biophysica acta

Free fatty acid receptor 1 (FFAR1/GPR40) signaling affects insulin secretion by enhancing mitochondrial respiration during palmitate exposure.

PMID 26408932


Fatty acids affect insulin secretion via metabolism and FFAR1-mediated signaling. Recent reports indicate that these two pathways act synergistically. Still it remains unclear how they interrelate. Taking into account the key role of mitochondria in insulin secretion, we attempted to dissect the metabolic and FFAR1-mediated effects of fatty acids on mitochondrial function. One-hour culture of MIN6 cells with palmitate significantly enhanced mitochondrial respiration. Antagonism or silencing of FFAR1 prevented the palmitate-induced rise in respiration. On the other hand, in the absence of extracellular palmitate FFAR1 agonists caused a modest increase in respiration. Using an agonist of the M3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor and PKC inhibitor we found that in the presence of the fatty acid mitochondrial respiration is regulated via Gαq protein-coupled receptor signaling. The increase in respiration in palmitate-treated cells was largely due to increased glucose utilization and oxidation. However, glucose utilization was not dependent on FFAR1 signaling. Collectively, these results indicate that mitochondrial respiration in palmitate-treated cells is enhanced via combined action of intracellular metabolism of the fatty acid and the Gαq-coupled FFAR1 signaling. Long-term palmitate exposure reduced ATP-coupling efficiency of mitochondria and deteriorated insulin secretion. The presence of the FFAR1 antagonist during culture did not improve ATP-coupling efficiency, however, it resulted in enhanced mitochondrial respiration and improved insulin secretion after culture. Taken together, our study demonstrates that during palmitate exposure, integrated actions of fatty acid metabolism and fatty acid-induced FFAR1 signaling on mitochondrial respiration underlie the synergistic action of the two pathways on insulin secretion.