Fat accumulation outside subcutaneous adipose tissue often has unfavourable effects on systemic metabolism. In addition to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which has received considerable attention, pancreatic fat has become an important area of research throughout the past 10 years. While a number of diagnostic approaches are available to quantify pancreatic fat, multi-echo Dixon MRI is currently the most developed method. Initial studies have shown associations between pancreatic fat and the metabolic syndrome, impaired glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Pancreatic fat is linked to reduced insulin secretion, at least under specific circumstances such as prediabetes, low BMI and increased genetic risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. This Review summarizes the possible causes and metabolic consequences of pancreatic fat accumulation. In addition, potential therapeutic approaches for addressing pancreatic fat accumulation are discussed.
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