Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(12):1673-1682. doi:10.7150/ijms.46395

Research Paper

Pancreatic Fat is not significantly correlated with β-cell Dysfunction in Patients with new-onset Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus using quantitative Computed Tomography

YX Li1,2, YQ Sang2, Yan Sun2, XK Liu2, HF Geng2, Min Zha3, Ben Wang2, Fei Teng2, HJ Sun2, Yu Wang2, QQ Qiu2, Xiu Zang2, Yun Wang2, TT Wu2, Peter M. Jones4, Jun Liang2✉, Wei Xu1,2,4✉

1. Graduate School of Bengbu Medical College, Bengbu, Anhui, China.
2. Department of Endocrinology, Xuzhou Central Hospital, Xuzhou Institute of Medical Sciences, Xuzhou Clinical School of Nanjing Medical University, Affiliated Hospital of Medical School of Southeast University, Jiangsu, China.
3. Department of Endocrinology, Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Jiangsu Province Hospital of Chinese Medicine, Jiangsu, China.
4. Diabetes Research Group, Division of Diabetes & Nutritional Sciences, School of Medicine, King's College London, London, UK.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Li YX, Sang YQ, Sun Y, Liu XK, Geng HF, Zha M, Wang B, Teng F, Sun HJ, Wang Y, Qiu QQ, Zang X, Wang Y, Wu TT, Jones PM, Liang J, Xu W. Pancreatic Fat is not significantly correlated with β-cell Dysfunction in Patients with new-onset Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus using quantitative Computed Tomography. Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(12):1673-1682. doi:10.7150/ijms.46395. Available from

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Objective: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a chronic condition resulting from insulin resistance and insufficient β-cell secretion, leading to improper glycaemic regulation. Previous studies have found that excessive fat deposits in organs such as the liver and muscle can cause insulin resistance through lipotoxicity that affects β-cell function. The relationships between fat deposits in pancreatic tissue, the function of β-cells, the method of visceral fat evaluation and T2DM have been sought by researchers. This study aims to elucidate the role of pancreatic fat deposits in the development of T2DM using quantitative computed tomography (QCT), especially their effects on islet β-cell function.

Methods: We examined 106 subjects at the onset of T2DM who had undergone abdominal QCT. Estimated pancreatic fat and liver fat were quantified using QCT and calculated. We analysed the correlations with Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR) scores and other oral glucose tolerance test-derived parameters that reflect islet function. Furthermore, correlations of estimated pancreatic fat and liver fat with the area under the curve for insulin (AUCINS) and HOMA-IR were assessed with partial correlation analysis and demonstrated by scatter plots.

Results: Associations were found between estimated liver fat and HOMA-IR, AUCINS, the modified β-cell function index (MBCI) and Homeostatic Model Assessment β (HOMA-β). However, no significant differences existed between estimated pancreas fat and those parameters. Similarly, after adjustment for sex, age and body mass index, only estimated liver fat was correlated with HOMA-IR and AUCINS.

Conclusions: This study suggests no significant correlation between pancreatic fat deposition and β-cell dysfunction in the early stages of T2DM using QCT as a screening tool. The deposits of fat in the pancreas and the resulting lipotoxicity may play an important role in the late stage of islet cell function dysfunction as the course of T2DM progresses.

Keywords: Pancreatic fat, Quantitative computed tomography, Onset type 2 diabetes mellitus, β-cell function, Insulin resistance