Insulin resistance and body fat distribution in South Asian men compared to Caucasian men

Manisha Chandalla, Ping Lin, Thanalakshmi Seenivasan, Edward H. Livingston, Peter G. Snell, Scott M. Grundy, Nicola Abate

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193 Scopus citations


Objective. South Asians are susceptible to insulin resistance even without obesity. We examined the characteristics of body fat content, distribution and function in South Asian men and their relationships to insulin resistance compared to Caucasians. Research Design and Methods. Twenty-nine South Asian and 18 Caucasian non-diabetic men (age 27,±3 and 27±3 years, respectively) underwent euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp for insulin sensitivity, underwater weighing for total body fat, MRI of entire abdomen for intraperitoneal (IP) and subcutaneous abdominal (SA) fat and biopsy of SA fat for adipocyte size. Results. Compared to Caucasians, in spite of similar BMI, South Asians had higher total body fat (22±6 and 15±4% of body weight; p-value<0.0001), higher SA fat (3.5±1.9 and 2.2±1.3,kg, respectively, p-value=0.004), but no differences in IP fat (1.0±0.5 and 1.0±0.7 kg, respectively, p-value=0.4). SA adipocyte, cell size was significantly higher in South Asians (3491±1393 and 1648±864 μm2; p-value=0.0001) and was inversely correlated with both glucose disposal rate (r-value= -0.57; p-value=0.0008) and plasma adiponectin concentrations (r-value=-0.71, p-value<0.0001). Adipocyte size differences persisted even when SA was matched between South Asians and Caucasians. Conclusions, Insulin resistance in young South Asian men can be observed even without Increase in IP fat mass and is related to large SA adipocytes size. Hence ethnic excess in insulin resistance in South Asians appears to be related more lto excess truncal fat and dysfunctional adipose tissue than to excess visceral fat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere812
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 29 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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