Independent association between prediabetes and future pancreatic fat accumulation: a 5-year Japanese cohort study

J Gastroenterol. 2018 Jul;53(7):873-882. doi: 10.1007/s00535-017-1422-2. Epub 2017 Dec 13.


Background: The association between pancreatic fat and glucose dysmetabolism has been reported in several cross-sectional studies; however, a recent longitudinal study showed that baseline pancreatic fat did not cause subsequent diabetes mellitus. We hypothesized that pancreatic fat is not a cause but a manifestation of glucose dysmetabolism and aimed to investigate the association between baseline prediabetes and future pancreatic fat accumulation.

Methods: Between 2008 and 2015, 198 nondiabetic participants, who underwent a health check-up via unenhanced computed tomography (CT) twice with CT intervals ≥ 5 years, were enrolled as prediabetes (n = 48) and non-prediabetes participants (n = 150). Prediabetes was defined as fasting plasma glucose of 100-125 mg/dl or hemoglobin A1c of 5.7-6.4%. Pancreatic fat was evaluated using a histologically validated method to measure the difference between pancreas and spleen attenuations (P-S) on CT. Pancreatic fat accumulation during follow-up was measured as P-S change from baseline. Multiple linear regression was used to evaluate the association between baseline prediabetes and future pancreatic fat accumulation with adjustment for age, sex, body mass index, physical activity, and liver fat at baseline.

Results: Mean pancreatic fat accumulation was 0.30 (SD, 5.8) Hounsfield units during follow-up. On univariate analysis, baseline prediabetes was associated with future pancreatic fat accumulation (β = 3.73; 95% CI 1.91-5.55; P < 0.001). This association remained statistically significant on multivariate analysis (β = 3.14; 95% CI 1.25-5.03; P = 0.001).

Conclusions: Prediabetes is a risk factor for future pancreatic fat accumulation. Pancreatic fat may be a manifestation of glucose dysmetabolism.

Keywords: Cohort; Diabetes; Fat; Pancreas; Prediabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Fat / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Japan
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreas / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreas / pathology*
  • Prediabetic State / blood
  • Prediabetic State / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human
  • Glucose