Can persistent organic pollutants distinguish between two opposite metabolic phenotypes in lean Koreans?

Diabetes Metab. 2018 Mar;44(2):168-171. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2017.12.008. Epub 2018 Jan 6.


Aims: This study investigated the association of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), an emerging new risk factor for type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome, with the presence of opposite phenotypes of glucose and lipid metabolism among normal-weight Koreans of similar body composition.

Methods: Fifty subjects, randomly selected from an ongoing community-based cohort study, from two opposite phenotype groups - metabolically unhealthy normal weight (MUHNW) and metabolically healthy normal weight (MHNW) - were matched for waist circumference, visceral fat mass and demographic variables, then compared for serum concentrations of POPs.

Results: Most POPs (10 out of 13 compounds) were present in higher serum concentrations in the MUHNW than in the MHNW. In particular, serum concentrations of all compounds of the organochlorine pesticide class were 2.2 to 4.7 times higher in cases than in controls. Compared with the lowest tertile of summary measures of POPs, Odds ratios (95% confidence interval) for the second and third tertiles were 7.4 (1.9-29.4) and 10.4 (2.6-41.2), respectively. Adjusting for possible confounders did not change the results.

Conclusion: Taken altogether, these findings from the present and previous studies suggest that increased serum POP concentrations may play an important role in the development of unhealthy metabolic phenotypes in lean people.

Keywords: Adipose tissue; Diabetes; Dyslipidemia; Obesity; Persistent organic pollutants.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ideal Body Weight / physiology
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Phenotype
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors


  • Environmental Pollutants