British Journal of Nutrition

Review Article

The ingestion of saturated fatty acid triacylglycerols acutely affects insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity in human subjects

Melania Mancoa1 c1, Alessandro Bertuzzia2, Serenella Salinaria3, Antonino Scarfonea1, Menotti Calvania1, Aldo V. Grecoa1 and Geltrude Mingronea1

a1 Institute of Internal Medicine, Catholic University S. Cuore, School of Medicine, Largo A. Gemelli, 8, 00168, Rome, Italy

a2 Institute of Systems Analysis and Informatics – CNR, Rome, Italy

a3 Department of Systems Analysis and Informatics, University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’, Rome, Italy


To assess the effects of acute dietary saturated fat intake on glucose-induced insulin secretion rate (ISR), measured by the C-peptide deconvolution method, and on insulin clearance and sensitivity, five obese and five normal-weight women (controls) were studied after either a 100g oral butter load or a 100ml water load. At 120min after the oral load a hyperglycaemic clamp was performed over 180min. A dramatic increase of ISR occurred after butter compared with the water challenge in the controls (1305·6 (SE 124·1) v. 616·1 (SE 52·5) pmol/min; P<0·01) and to a lesser degree in the obese subjects (1975·0 (SE 44·1) v. 1417·5 (SE 56·0) pmol/min; P<0·05). Insulin sensitivity was impaired after butter (0·60×10−2 (SE 0·11×10−2) v. 2·26×10−2 (SE 0·32×10−2) ml/min per kgFFM per (pmol/l); P<0·01) in the controls but not in the obese group. Insulin clearance during the clamp was reduced after butter compared with after the water load only in the controls (0·89 (SE 0·22) v. 1·70 (SE 0·15) litres/min; P<0·01). The data are consistent with the hypothesis that acute excess lipid availability may lead to a compensatory elevation in glucose-induced insulin secretion as a result of the decline in insulin sensitivity and a reduced insulin clearance.

(Received May 01 2004)

(Revised June 15 2004)

(Accepted July 30 2004)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Melania Manco, fax +39 06 3054392, email