DALLAS March 27, 2009 Where different ethnic groups store fat in their bodies may account for differences in the likelihood they'll develop insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.
According to research reported in the online edition and the March issue of Hepatology, African-Americans with insulin resistance might harbor factors that protect them from this form of metabolic liver disease.
Despite similarly high rates of associated risk factors such as insulin resistance, obesity and diabetes among African-Americans and Hispanics, African-Americans are less likely than Hispanics to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD. The disease is characterized by high levels of triglycerides in the liver and affects as many as one-third of American adults.
"If we can identify the factors that protect African-Americans from this liver disease, we may be able to extrapolate those to other populations and perhaps develop targeted therapies to help populations prone to NAFLD," said Dr. Jeffrey Browning, assistant professor of internal medicine in the UT Southwestern Advanced Imaging Research Center and the study's senior author.
Previous research has shown that when African-Americans do develop NAFLD, they're less likely to reach the later stages of liver disease. Prior work by Dr. Browning and other UT Southwestern scientists has revealed that NAFLD is more prevalent among Hispanics than African-Americans or Caucasians.
For the current study, Dr. Browning and his colleagues analyzed data gathered in the multi-ethnic, population-based Dallas Heart Study. Starting in the year 2000, more than 2,100 participants provided blood samples and underwent multiple body scans with magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography to examine the liver, heart and other organs. Body composition, including fat distribution, also was scrutinize
|Contact: LaKisha Ladson|
UT Southwestern Medical Center