Enteroendocrine cells are essential for the regulation of glucose metabolism, but it is unknown whether they are associated with clinical features of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and fasting plasma metabolites.
We aimed to identify fasting plasma metabolites that associate with duodenal L cell, K cell and delta cell densities in subjects with MetS with ranging levels of insulin resistance.
In this cross-sectional study, we evaluated L, K and delta cell density in duodenal biopsies from treatment-naïve males with MetS using machine-learning methodology.
We identified specific clinical biomarkers and plasma metabolites associated with L cell and delta cell density. L cell density was associated with increased plasma metabolite levels including symmetrical dimethylarginine, 3-aminoisobutyric acid, kynurenine and glycine. In turn, these L cell-linked fasting plasma metabolites correlated with clinical features of MetS.
Our results indicate a link between duodenal L cells, plasma metabolites and clinical characteristics of MetS. We conclude that duodenal L cells associate with plasma metabolites that have been implicated in human glucose metabolism homeostasis. Disentangling the causal relation between L cells and these metabolites might help to improve the (small intestinal-driven) pathophysiology behind insulin resistance in human obesity.