In individuals with obesity, free fatty acids (FFA) are chronically raised resulting in ß-cell dysfunction, leading to type 2 diabetes (T2D) . Recent data implicate the role of inflammation in developing ß-cell dysfunction, which is in part mediated by nucleotide-oligomerization domain 1 (NOD1) , an intracellular pattern recognition receptor. NOD1 is activated by peptidoglycans of bacterial cell walls; however, in vitro studies have documented that NOD1 can also be activated by saturated FFA.

Previous data from our lab have shown that palmitate-induced ß-cell dysfunction was prevented in whole body and ß-cell specific NOD1 null mice. We have seen earlier reports on increased macrophage infiltration in islets after elevation in circulating palmitate, and much higher expression of NOD1 in macrophages than ß-cells. Hence, we hypothesized that macrophage NOD1 receptors play a pivotal role in FFA-induced ß-cell dysfunction.

We have generated myeloid specific NOD1 null mice to target macrophage NOD1 receptors by crossing NOD1 floxed mice with Lyz2 Cre+ mice. Both knockouts and their controls (floxed and Cre) were infused for 48 h with ethylpalmitate (hydrolyzed to palmitate and ethanol in plasma) , to achieve elevated circulating FFA in a non-toxic manner. Ethanol vehicle was infused as control treatment. To assess in vivo ß-cell function, hyperglycemic clamp was performed following the 48 h infusion, and the disposition index (DI) was calculated.

Ethylpalmitate resulted in elevated plasma FFA compared to vehicle infusion. Ethylpalmitate caused marked reduction in DI in control mice, while knockout mice displayed no significant changes in DI between ethylpalmitate and vehicle infused groups. These results suggest that macrophage NOD1 plays a causal role in palmitate-induced ß-cell dysfunction in vivo. Overall, our data reveal NOD1 as a key factor and a potential therapeutic target for obesity-associated diabetes.


S.Rahman: None. J.Yung: None. Y.Zhang: None. A.Giacca: None.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at