Clinical implications of fatty pancreas: correlations between fatty pancreas and metabolic syndrome

World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Apr 21;15(15):1869-75. doi: 10.3748/wjg.15.1869.


Aim: To investigate the clinical implications of lipid deposition in the pancreas (fatty pancreas).

Methods: The subjects of this study were 293 patients who had undergone abdominal computed tomography (CT) and sonography. Fatty pancreas was diagnosed by sonographic findings and subdivided into mild, moderate, and severe fatty pancreas groups comparing to the retroperitoneal fat echogenicity.

Results: Fatty pancreas was associated with higher levels for visceral fat, waist circumference, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), total cholesterol, triglyceride, high density lipoprotein, free fatty acid, gamma-GTP, insulin, and the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) than the control group (P < 0.05). HOMA-IR, visceral fat, triglyceride, and ALT also tended to increase with the degree of fat deposition in the pancreas on sonography. In a multivariate logistic regression analysis, HOMA-IR, visceral fat, and ALT level were independently related to fatty pancreas after adjustment for age, body mass index, and lipid profile. The incidence of metabolic syndrome in the fatty pancreas group was significantly higher than in the control group, and the numbers of metabolic syndrome parameters were significantly higher in the fatty pancreas group (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Sonographic fatty pancrease showed higher insulin resistance, visceral fat area, triglyceride, and ALT levels than normal pancreases. Fatty pancreas also showed a strong correlation with metabolic syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Fatty Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / pathology
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome* / diagnostic imaging
  • Metabolic Syndrome* / pathology
  • Metabolic Syndrome* / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreas* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreas* / pathology
  • Pancreatic Diseases* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreatic Diseases* / pathology
  • Pancreatic Diseases* / physiopathology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography