Effects of free fatty acids (FFAs) on endogenous glucose production (EGP) and gluconeogenesis (GNG) were examined in healthy subjects (n = 6) during stepwise increased Intralipid/heparin infusion (plasma FFAs 0.8+/-0.1, 1.8+/-0.2, and 2.8+/-0.3 mmol/l) and during glycerol infusion (plasma FFAs approximately 0.5 mmol/l). Rates of EGP were determined with D-[6,6-2H2]glucose and contributions of GNG from 2H enrichments in carbons 2 and 5 of blood glucose after 2H2O ingestion. Plasma glucose concentrations decreased by approximately 10% (P < 0.01), whereas plasma insulin increased by approximately 47% (P = 0.02) after 9 h of lipid infusion. EGP declined from 9.3+/-0.5 (lipid) and 9.0+/-0.8 pmol x kg(-1) x min(-1) (glycerol) to 8.4+/-0.5 and 8.2+/-0.7 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1), respectively (P < 0.01). Contribution of GNG similarly rose (P < 0.01) from 46+/-4 and 52+/-3% to 65+/-8 and 78+/-7%. To exclude interaction of FFAs with insulin secretion, the study was repeated at fasting plasma insulin (approximately 35 pmol/l) and glucagon (approximately 90 ng/ml) concentrations using somatostatin-insulin-glucagon clamps. Plasma glucose increased by approximately 50% (P < 0.005) during lipid but decreased by approximately 12% during glycerol infusion (P < 0.005). EGP remained unchanged over the 9-h period (9.9+/-1.2 vs. 9.0+/-1.1 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1)). GNG accounted for 62+/-5 (lipid) and 60+/-6% (glycerol) of EGP at time 0 and rose to 74+/-3% during lipid infusion only (P < 0.05 vs. glycerol: 64+/-4%). In conclusion, high plasma FFA concentrations increase the percent contribution of GNG to EGP and may contribute to increased rates of GNG in patients with type 2 diabetes.

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