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Physiological insulin resistance and palmitic acid again

October 9, 2012

Reposted from Hyperlipid

I like palmitic acid. It causes insulin resistance. Thank goodness.

Ted sent me this link. It’s depressing.

I’m going to discuss a thought drug. I’m going to call it Palmitofake, and it can be developed by Pfizer, no, Fort Dodge.
I particularly dislike FD for anaesthesia related reasons.

So what does Palmitofake do? BTW, if you didn’t need any other hint you can tell this drug is going to bomb as there is neither an x, y or z in its name. Trust FD to screw up (in my mind).

Palmitofake is a fluoride substituted analogue of palmitic acid which irreversibly binds to the acyl-CoA interaction site of JNK1 and so inhibits the pathway by which palmitic acid keeps GLUT4 transporters off of the cell surface membrane, whole body-wide.

The logic to this is that the lipotoxin, palmitic acid (nature’s second biggest mistake, the biggest was obviously cholesterol) can no longer keep glucose out of cells and metabolism can run, unimpaired by fat, for ever on glucose. Woo hoo bring on the glucose.

This concept is so obviously safe and utterly in keeping with modern thoughts on type 2 diabetes that no safety testing is deemed necessary and it can be sold direct to the public via placement in the drinking water. OK, maybe as an over the counter pill. Let’s look at a case study:

Jim has just done a heavy workout at the gym. Like really heavy and, catastrophe of all time, he forgot his Sportzaide. Sportzaide is a glucose drink used to maintain blood glucose levels during workouts, it promotes sufficient insulin secretion that no fat is ever burned and no glycogen ever depleted. We wouldn’t want him to lose weight from exercise would we?

So Jim is modestly glycogen depleted for the first time in his life. It’s an odd situation but, in the last few million years, it has been known to happen occasionally to the hominids who eventually became us. It’s called not having anything to eat for a week before
having to chase your diner.

If Jim is in government you might argue that brain function is unimportant, but you would be wrong. Jim needs a functional
brain, just to stay alive. Whatever else happens, he needs some glucose for his brain. There is no active transport of glucose, it runs down a concentration gradient in to brain cells using GLUT1 and GLUT3. However many transporters are present, if blood glucose drops below 2.0mmol/l Jim is going to be unwell and if it goes below 1.0mmol/l he’s going to be very dead.

Jim’s blood glucose drops. His liver would happily pump out lots more, but it’s got none left. His pancreas has stopped producing insulin above basal rates some time ago and is now powerless to mobilise glucose in any way that doesn’t need protein catabolism, and this is not exactly a supply on demand source.

In the natural order of things Jim will, by now, be mobilising enormous amounts of free fatty acids from his 40kg of beer gut. These free fatty acids rush to his muscles and provide an almost inexhaustible supply of energy. They don’t rush to his brain. His brain wants glucose. His brain needs glucose. His brain will have a temper tantrum for glucose. Ultimately it will kill Jim if it doesn’t get it.

Jim’s body, metabolically, is in starvation mode. It needs to stop wasting glucose on his biceps and give it to his brain. The biceps do fine on free fatty acids, the brain dies in a sea of energy without glucose. The trick to staying alive when glycogen depleted is to keep glucose out of any tissue that can cope without it and save almost all of it for brain use.

So the rule is, when the body is flooded with free fatty acids, all fat using tissues should stop using glucose. They should see those free fatty acids and internalise their GLUT4 transporters so they don’t waste brain glucose on dumb muscle.

The message to put this change in place is palmitic acid.

Jim has a very specific and very serious problem. He just started on Palmitofake yesterday as part of the initial clinical trials. As soon as he floods his muscles with palmitic acid he should have internalised his GLUT4 glucose transporters. Palmitofake stops this. He got in to the lift as an irritable exec with a blood glucose of 2.0mmol/l, got out of the lift on a stretcher with a blood glucose of 1.0mmol/l and died before the paramedics could get a glucose infusion up on him, with a blood glucose of 0.1mmol/l


We should be looking at what gets broken in metabolic syndrome at the cellular energy processing level, not shooting the messenger. And we all know that low fat diets reduce mitochondrial number and high fat diets, especially if ketogenic, increase mitochondrial numbers. I really must get back to those high fat fed mice from 10 posts ago!

It’s Saturday night. I need a glass of wine and bed!


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