(HealthDay News) – There is considerable ethnic variation in the levels of pancreatic triglycerides (TGs) and in β-cell dysfunction, according to research published online Sept 11 in Diabetes Care.

Lidia S. Szczepaniak, PhD, of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and colleagues conducted a study involving black, Hispanic, and white adults who underwent tests to evaluate their β-cell function and insulin resistance. Pancreatic and hepatic TG levels were evaluated with proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

The researchers found that pancreatic TG levels were higher in whites and Hispanics than blacks, with the highest level seen in Hispanics. Blacks had significantly higher compensatory insulin secretion and disposition index. Hispanics and blacks had similar insulin sensitivity, which was significantly lower than whites. In blacks, there was a steep increase in compensatory insulin secretion along with small increments in pancreatic TG levels. In whites, there was a higher range of pancreatic TG levels but the slope was less steep compared with blacks. The pancreatic TG levels of Hispanics were similar to those of whites, but compensatory insulin secretion was described by a combination of both pancreatic and hepatic TG levels and visceral fat mass.

“In a multiethnic sample of relatively young men and women with stage I obesity and without diabetes, we found striking ethnic differences in the levels of pancreatic TGs and in the relationship between pancreatic TGs and β-cell dysfunction,” the authors write. “Hispanic subjects have levels of pancreatic TGs similar to those of whites but the relationship between pancreatic TGs and insulin secretion is paradoxically negative.”

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