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Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2011 Aug;93 Suppl 1:S60-5. doi: 10.1016/S0168-8227(11)70015-8.

Role of beta-cell dysfunction, ectopic fat accumulation and insulin resistance in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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Institute of Clinical Physiology, National Research Council (CNR), Pisa, Italy.


In the natural history of type 2 diabetes (T2DM), individuals progress from normal glucose tolerance (NGT) to impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) to overt T2DM and this progression has been demonstrated in populations of diverse ethnic background. It is widely recognised that both insulin resistance and beta-cell dysfunction are important in the pathogenesis of glucose intolerance. In populations with a high prevalence of T2DM, insulin resistance is well established long before the development of any impairment in glucose homeostasis, particularly in subjects with ectopic fat accumulation. However, as long as the beta cell is able to secrete sufficient amounts of insulin to offset the severity of insulin resistance, glucose tolerance remains normal. This dynamic interaction between insulin secretion and insulin resistance is essential to the maintenance of NGT and interruption of this crosstalk between the beta cell and peripheral tissues results in the progressive deterioration of glucose homeostasis. In this paper the role of beta-cell function is reviewed, as well as the role of ectopic fat accumulation and insulin resistance in the development of type 2 diabetes.

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