medwireNews: Researchers have found that pancreatic triglycerides (TGs) provide a novel biomarker for pancreatic β-cell dysfunction that can be used to identify individuals at risk for Type 2 diabetes, particularly among people of Hispanic origin.
"High fat in the pancreas is an identifying factor of the pancreas susceptible to Type 2 diabetes. It may help to recognize obese individuals who are at risk for diabetes early in the disease development process," lead author Lidia Szczepaniak, from the University of Texas in Dallas, USA, told medwireNews.
In a multiethnic sample of 100 mildly obese men and women (mean body mass index [BMI] 30 kg/m2), localized proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (H MRS) revealed a threefold higher accumulation of pancreatic TGs in Hispanic and White people than in Black people.
However, only White and Black individuals were able to compensate for elevated TG levels by secreting insulin. In these individuals, compensatory insulin secretion increased with increments in levels of pancreatic TGs, although this relationship was weaker among the White individuals.
However, in the Hispanic group, the relationship between compensatory insulin secretion and pancreatic TG was paradoxically negative.
"We found Latinos were especially vulnerable, as they tended to store more fat in the pancreas and their compensatory insulin secretion was entirely suppressed," said Szczepaniak in a press statement.
Writing in Diabetes Care, the team explain that in a standard animal model of obesity-related diabetes, an excess of cytosolic TG marked excessive levels of ceramide and other toxic metabolites that activated inducible nitric oxide synthase to cause progressive β-cell apoptosis and failure. The researchers wanted to know whether this mechanism may also underlie obesity-related diabetes in humans.
The findings show that pancreatic TG level measured by H MRS is a noninvasive, novel biomarker for pancreatic β-cell dysfunction, especially in the at-risk Hispanic population, says the team.
"Pancreatic TGs hold exciting promise as intermediate phenotypes in clinical intervention trials for obesity and as obesity biomarkers to identify mildly obese patients who stand to benefit from early pre-emptive intervention," conclude Szczepaniak et al.
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