Perfluoroalkyl substances stimulate insulin secretion by islet β cells via G protein-coupled receptor 40

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Wei-Ping Qin
  • Lin-Ying Cao
  • Chuan-Hai Li
  • Liang-Hong Guo
  • Xiao-Min Ren

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Institute of Environmental and HealthScience, China Jiliang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310018, China
  • State Key Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences


The potential causal relationship between exposure to environmental contaminants and diabetes is troubling. Exposure of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) is found to be associated with hyperinsulinemia and the enhancement of insulin secretion by islet β cells in humans, but the underlying mechanism is still unclear. Here, by combining in vivo studies with both wild type and gene knockout mice and in vitro studies with mouse islet β cells (β-TC-6), we demonstrated clearly that 1 h exposure of perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) stimulated insulin secretion and intracellular calcium level by activating G protein-coupled receptor 40 (GPR40), a vital free fatty acid regulated membrane receptor on islet β cells. We further showed that the observed effects of PFASs on the mouse model may also exist in humans by investigating the molecular binding interaction of PFASs with human GPR40. We thus provided evidence for a novel mechanism for how insulin-secretion is disrupted by PFASs in humans.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3428-3436
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number6
Early online date24 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas