Ethnic differences in hepatic, pancreatic, muscular and visceral fat deposition in healthy men of white European and black west African ethnicity

Olah Hakim, Oluwatoyosi Bello, Meera Ladwa, Dimitra Christodoulou, Esma Bulut, Haris Shuaib, Janet L Peacock, A Margot Umpleby, Geoff Charles-Edwards, Stephanie A Amiel, Louise M Goff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AIMS: We aimed to assess ethnic differences in visceral adipose tissue (VAT), intrahepatic (IHL), intrapancreatic (IPL) and intramyocellular lipids (IMCL) between healthy white European (WE) and black west African (BWA) men.

METHODS: 23 WE and 20 BWA men underwent Dixon-magnetic resonance imaging to quantify VAT, IHL and IPL; and proton-magnetic resonance spectroscopy to quantify IMCL. Insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function were determined using homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-2).

RESULTS: BWA men exhibited significantly lower VAT (P = 0.021) and IHL (P = 0.044) than WE men, but comparable IPL (P = 0.92) and IMCL (P = 0.87). VAT was associated with IPL in both ethnicities (WE: P < 0.001; BWA: P = 0.001) but the relationship with IHL differed by ethnicity (Pinteraction = 0.018) and was only significant in WE men (WE: P < 0.001; BWA: P = 0.36). All ectopic fat depots inversely associated with insulin sensitivity and positively associated with beta-cell function in WE but not BWA men.

CONCLUSIONS: Lower VAT and IHL, and their lack of interrelation, in BWA men suggests ethnic differences exist in the mechanisms of ectopic fat deposition. The lack of association between ectopic fat with insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function in BWA men may indicate a lesser role for ectopic fat in the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus in black populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107866
JournalDiabetes research and clinical practice
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans/ethnology
  • Aged
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat/physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult

Cite this