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HPB (Oxford). 2007;9(4):312-8. doi: 10.1080/13651820701504157.

Nonalcoholic fatty pancreas disease.

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Department of Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.



Obesity leads to fat infiltration of multiple organs including the heart, kidneys, and liver. Under conditions of oxidative stress, fat-derived cytokines are released locally and result in an inflammatory process and organ dysfunction. In the liver, fat infiltration has been termed nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which may lead to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. No data are available, however, on the influence of obesity on pancreatic fat and cytokines, and nonalcoholic fatty pancreas disease (NAFPD) has not been described. Therefore, we designed a study to determine whether obesity is associated with increased pancreatic fat and cytokines.


Thirty C57BL/6J lean control and 30 leptin-deficient obese female mice were fed a 15% fat diet for 4 weeks. At 12 weeks of age all animals underwent total pancreatectomy. Pancreata from each strain were pooled for measurement of a) wet and dry weight, b) histologic presence of fat, c) triglycerides, free fatty acids (FFAs), cholesterol, phospholipids, and total fat, and d) interleukin (IL)-1beta and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). Data were analyzed by Student's t test and Fisher's exact test.


Pancreata from obese mice were heavier (p<0.05) and had more fat histologically (p<0.05). Pancreata from obese mice had more triglycerides, FFAs, cholesterol, and total fat (p<0.05). Triglycerides represented 11% of pancreatic fat in lean mice compared with 67% of pancreatic fat in obese mice (p<0.01). Cytokines IL-1beta and TNF-alpha also were elevated in the pancreata of obese mice (p<0.05).


These data suggest that obese mice have 1) heavier pancreata, 2) more pancreatic fat, especially triglycerides and FFAs, and 3) increased cytokines. We conclude that obesity leads to nonalcoholic fatty pancreatic disease.


Cytokines; fat; obesity; pancreas

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