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Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018 Mar;33(1):9-16. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2018.33.1.9.

Pathophysiology of Type 2 Diabetes in Koreans.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Molecular Medicine and Biopharmaceutical Sciences, Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.


The pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes is characterized by variable degrees of insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion. Both genetic and environmental factors serve as etiologic factors. Recent genetic studies have identified at least 83 variants associated with diabetes. A significant number of these loci are thought to be involved in insulin secretion, either through β-cell development or β-cell dysfunction. Environmental factors have changed rapidly during the past half century, and the increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes can be attributed to these changes. Environmental factors may affect epigenetic changes and alter susceptibility to diabetes. A recent epidemiologic study revealed that Korean patients with type 2 diabetes already had impaired insulin secretion and insulin resistance 10 years before the onset of diabetes. Those who developed diabetes showed impaired β-cell compensation with an abrupt decrease in insulin secretion during the last 2 years before diabetes developed. The retrograde trajectory of the disposition index differed according to the baseline subgroups of insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity. We hope that obtaining a more detailed understanding of the perturbations in the major pathophysiologic process of diabetes on the individual level will eventually lead to the implementation of precision medicine and improved patient outcomes.


Diabetes mellitus, type 2; Environment; Genetics; Insulin resistance; Insulin-secreting cells; Physiopathology

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No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

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