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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Nov 28;103(48):18273-7. Epub 2006 Nov 17.

Increased prevalence of insulin resistance and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in Asian-Indian men.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06536, USA.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is strongly associated with obesity in most, but not all, ethnic groups, suggesting important ethnic differences in disease susceptibility. Although it is clear that insulin resistance plays a major role in the pathogenesis of T2DM and that insulin resistance is strongly associated with increases in hepatic (HTG) and/or intramyocellular lipid content, little is known about the prevalence of insulin resistance and potential differences in intracellular lipid distribution among healthy, young, lean individuals of different ethnic groups. To examine this question, 482 young, lean, healthy, sedentary, nonsmoking Eastern Asians (n = 49), Asian-Indians (n = 59), Blacks (n = 48), Caucasians (n = 292), and Hispanics (n = 34) underwent an oral glucose tolerance test to assess whole-body insulin sensitivity by an insulin sensitivity index. In addition, intramyocellular lipid and HTG contents were measured by using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The prevalence of insulin resistance, defined as the lower quartile of insulin sensitivity index, was approximately 2- to 3-fold higher in the Asian-Indians compared with all other ethnic groups, and this could entirely be attributed to a 3- to 4-fold increased prevalence of insulin resistance in Asian-Indian men. This increased prevalence of insulin resistance in the Asian-Indian men was associated with an approximately 2-fold increase in HTG content and plasma IL-6 concentrations compared with Caucasian men. These data demonstrate important ethnic and gender differences in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance in Asian-Indian men and have important therapeutic implications for treatment of T2DM and for the development of steatosis-related liver disease in this ethnic group.

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