Objective: We investigated the relationship of liver fat to visceral adipose tissue, serum triglyceride levels and glucose disposal.
Design: Cross-sectional, prospective.
Subjects: 21 lean to moderately obese black NIDDM men (mean +/- s.d. age 48.9 +/- 9.4 years, body mass index 26.3 +/- 2.4, fasting plasma glucose 104 +/- 10 mg/dl, HBA1C 4.6 +/- 0.8% and body fat 26 +/- 6%) with no evidence of liver disease or alcohol abuse. Eleven were insulin-sensitive (glucose disposal > 5.5 mg/kg/min) and ten were insulin-resistant subjects during euglycemic insulin clamps.
Measurements: Body composition and liver density were determined by whole body computed tomography using 22 scans. Liver fat score was defined as 100 minus the absolute liver density. Glucose disposal was measured during 1 mU/kg/min euglycemic insulin clamp with 3-3H glucose.
Results: Visceral adipose tissue volume was 3.54 +/- 1.87 litres. The liver fat score was 48.8 +/- 5.0 (not in the range of clinical hepatic steatosis). Glucose disposal ranged from 2.5 to 8.1 mg/kg/min. The liver fat score was correlated with visceral/total adipose tissue ratio (r = 0.65, P = 0.001) and to fasting serum triglyceride levels (r = 0.47, P = 0.032). Fasting serum triglyceride levels were related to visceral adipose tissue (r = 0.52, P = 0.016). Liver fat was inversely related to glucose disposal (r = -0.42, 1 tail P = 0.036).
Conclusions: In non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, liver fat may contribute to insulin resistance and be a link between visceral adipose tissue mass and serum triglyceride levels.