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Open Access Commentary

β cells keep bad epigenetic memories of palmitate

Delphine Fradin1 and Pierre Bougnères12*

Author Affiliations

1 Inserm U986, Pincus Building, Bicêtre Hospital, Paris Sud University, 94275 Le Kremlin Bicêtre, France

2 AP-HP, Department of Pediatric Endocrinology, Bicêtre Hospital, Pôle I3E, Paris Sud University, rue du Général Leclerc, 94275 Le Kremlin Bicêtre, France

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BMC Medicine 2014, 12:104  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-12-104

Published: 23 June 2014


Palmitic acid, or hexadecanoic acid, a 16-carbon saturated fatty acid (FA), accounts for approximately 38% of the total circulating FA in lean or obese humans. In an article published in BMC Medicine, Hall et al. report that cultured islets from healthy donors, when exposed to palmitate, undergo changes in CpG methylation that are associated with modifications of expression in 290 genes. Their results provide a first look at the mechanisms used by the endocrine pancreas of humans to keep a durable genomic imprint from their exposure to FA that can influence gene expression and possibly cell phenotype in the long term. It is likely that such studies will help understand the epigenetic response of β cells to a disturbed metabolic environment, especially one created by obesity.

Please see related article: webcite

pancreatic cells; fatty acids; palmitate; epigenetics; gene expression; type 2 diabetes; islets of Langerhans; obesity; DNA methylation