Pancreas volume and liver fat related to risk of developing diabetes: Study

Published On 2022-01-12 03:30 GMT   |   Update On 2022-01-12 03:31 GMT

UK: A recent study published in the journal Diabetes Care has identified novel risk factors for type 2 diabetes (T2D). The results showed that a smaller pancreas volume and higher liver fat levels were related to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. "Our findings are helpful in understanding the causal role of ectopic fat in the pancreas and liver and organ volume in...

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UK: A recent study published in the journal Diabetes Care has identified novel risk factors for type 2 diabetes (T2D). The results showed that a smaller pancreas volume and higher liver fat levels were related to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

"Our findings are helpful in understanding the causal role of ectopic fat in the pancreas and liver and organ volume in the pathophysiology of type 1 and 2 diabetes," Hanieh Yaghootkar, University of Westminster, London, U.K., and colleagues wrote in their study. 

In observational studies, fat content and volume of the pancreas and liver are shown to be associated with diabetes risk. However, if these associations are causal is not known. Dr. Yaghootkar and the team, therefore, conducted Mendelian randomization (MR) study to examine the causality of such associations.

For this purpose, the researchers used genetic variants associated with the exposures (liver and pancreas volume and fat content) using MRI scans of UK Biobank participants (n = 32,859). Summary-level data was obtained for risk of type 1 (9,358 cases) and type 2 (55,005 cases) diabetes from the largest available genome-wide association studies. 

Following were the study's key findings:

  • Observationally, liver fat and volume were associated with type 2 diabetes (odds ratio per 1 SD higher exposure 2.16 and 2.11, respectively).
  • Pancreatic fat was associated with type 2 diabetes (1.42) but not type 1 diabetes, and pancreas volume was negatively associated with type 1 diabetes (0.42) and type 2 diabetes (0.73).
  • MR analysis provided evidence only for a causal role of liver fat and pancreas volume in risk of type 2 diabetes (1.27 or 27% increased risk and 0.76 or 24% decreased risk per 1SD, respectively) and no causal associations with type 1 diabetes.

"Our findings assist in understanding the causal role of ectopic fat in the liver and pancreas and of organ volume in the pathophysiology of type 1 and 2 diabetes," the authors concluded.

Reference:

Susan Martin, Elena P. Sorokin, E. Louise Thomas, Naveed Sattar, Madeleine Cule, Jimmy D. Bell, Hanieh Yaghootkar; Estimating the Effect of Liver and Pancreas Volume and Fat Content on Risk of Diabetes: A Mendelian Randomization Study. Diabetes Care 2021; dc211262. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc21-1262


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