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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Increased liver fat associates with severe metabolic perturbations in low birth weight men

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Objective: Ectopic liver fat deposition, resulting from impaired subcutaneous adipose tissue expandability, may represent an age-dependent key feature linking low birth weight (LBW) with increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D). We examined whether presumably healthy early middle-aged, non-obese LBW subjects exhibit increased liver fat content, whether increased liver fat in LBW is associated with the severity of dysmetabolic traits and finally whether such associations may be confounded by genetic factors.

Methods: Using 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy, we measured hepatic fat content in 26 early middle-aged, non-obese LBW and 22 BMI-matched normal birth weight (NBW) males. Endogenous glucose production was measured by stable isotopes, and a range of plasma adipokine and gut hormone analytes were measured by multiplex ELISA. Genetic risk scores were calculated from genome-wide association study (GWAS) data for birth weight, height, T2D, plasma cholesterol and risk genotypes for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Results: The LBW subjects had significantly increased hepatic fat content compared with NBW controls (P= 0.014), and 20% of LBW vs no controls had overt NAFLD. LBW subjects with NAFLD displayed widespread metabolic changes compared with NBW and LBW individuals without NAFLD, including hepatic insulin resistance, plasma adipokine and gut hormone perturbations as well as dyslipidemia. As an exception, plasma adiponectin levels were lower in LBW subjects both with and without NAFLD as compared to NBW controls. Genetic risk for selected differential traits did not differ between groups.

Conclusion: Increased liver fat content including overt NAFLD may be on the critical path linking LBW with increased risk of developing T2D in a non-genetic manner.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Volume186
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)511-521
Number of pages11
ISSN0804-4643
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2022

    Research areas

  • Birth Weight, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2/epidemiology, Genome-Wide Association Study, Humans, Infant, Low Birth Weight, Infant, Newborn, Insulin Resistance, Liver/diagnostic imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease/complications

ID: 76155004