Objective: We determined whether fat accumulation in the liver is associated with features of insulin resistance independent of obesity.
Research methods and procedures: We recruited 27 obese nondiabetic women in whom liver fat (LFAT) content was determined by proton spectroscopy, intra-abdominal and subcutaneous fat by magnetic resonance imaging, and insulin sensitivity by the euglycemic insulin clamp technique. The women were divided based on their median LFAT content (5%) to groups with low (3.2 +/- 0.3%) and high (9.8 +/- 1.5%) liver fat. The groups were almost identical with respect to age (36 +/- 1 vs. 38 +/- 1 years in low vs. high-LFAT), body mass index (32.2 +/- 0.6 vs. 32.8 +/- 0.5 kg/m(2)), waist-to-hip ratio, intra-abdominal, subcutaneous, and total fat content.
Results: Women with high LFAT had features of insulin resistance including higher fasting serum triglyceride (1.93 +/- 0.21 vs. 1.11 +/- 0.09 mM, p < 0.01) and insulin (14 +/- 3 vs. 10 +/- 1 mU/L, p < 0.05) concentrations than women with low LFAT. The group with high LFAT also had higher 24-hour blood pressures, and lower whole-body insulin sensitivity compared with the low-LFAT group.
Discussion: In obese women with previous gestational diabetes, LFAT, rather than any measure of body composition, is associated with features of insulin resistance.