March 13, 2020
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Fatty liver negatively affects beta-cell function

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Beta-cell function may deteriorate in the presence of excess fat in the liver for adults with and without diabetes, according to findings published in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation.

“This community-based cross-sectional study showed a positive correlation between the degree of liver steatosis and pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction, regardless of the presence of obesity or hyperinsulinemia,” Akinobu Nakamura, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the department of rheumatology, endocrinology and nephrology at Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine in Sapporo, Japan, and colleagues wrote. “The present findings suggest that fatty liver reflects pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction.”

Nakamura and colleagues used logarithm-transformed proinsulin to assess proinsulin levels and fatty liver index to assess the extent of fatty liver in 489 adults aged 35 to 79 years from the Dynamics of Lifestyle and Neighborhood Community on Health Study in Japan (mean age, 58 years; 53.8% women; 9.8% with diabetes). Participants with a fatty liver index of 60 or more had high fatty liver, whereas participants with between 30 and less than 60 had moderate fatty liver and participants with less than 30 had low fatty liver. The researchers also determined the BMI of each participant while assessing levels of fasting plasma glucose, serum insulin, C-peptide, HbA1c, triglycerides and gamma-glutamyl transferase in blood samples.

Participants with a high fatty liver index had a score of 2.91 in fully adjusted logarithm-transformed proinsulin vs. scores of 2.45 and 2.07 for those with moderate fatty liver index and low fatty liver index, respectively (P < .05 for both). According to the researchers, analyses that divided participants by their BMI and levels of serum insulin led to similar results.

Beta-cell function may deteriorate in the presence of excess fat in the liver for adults with and without diabetes, according to findings published in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation
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“The present findings suggest that fatty liver could affect beta-cell dysfunction. The existence of reciprocal cross-talk between the pancreas and fatty liver has been suggested,” the researchers wrote. “Our findings might suggest that the exacerbation of hepatic steatosis is positively associated with pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction.”

Participants without diabetes who had a high fatty liver index had a score of 2.76 in fully adjusted logarithm-transformed proinsulin vs. scores of 2.35 and 2.04 for those without diabetes and moderate fatty liver index and low fatty liver index, respectively (P < .05 for both).

“Based on the positive association between the fatty liver index and proinsulin in participants without diabetes, the present data might suggest the possibility of pancreatic beta-cell function recovery after improvement in liver steatosis,” the researchers wrote. “Diet, exercise and medication might improve liver steatosis, ultimately playing an important role in the prevention of the development and progression of type 2 diabetes, as well as liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.” – by Phil Neuffer

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.