, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 185-191
Date: 11 Oct 2008

Ectopic fat and insulin resistance

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Ectopic fat is defined by the deposition of triglycerides within cells of non-adipose tissue that normally contain only small amounts of fat. Over the past decade, magnetic resonance spectroscopy has been used extensively for noninvasive quantification of intramyocellular, intrahepatocellular, and more recently myocardial and pancreatic lipids. In liver and muscle, triglyceride content usually correlates with whole-body and tissue-specific insulin sensitivity. However, fat mass and oxidative capacity influence this relationship, indicating that ectopic lipid content is not the only factor that explains insulin resistance. Ectopic lipids may rather serve as biomarkers of the balance between metabolic supply and demand in different states of insulin sensitivity. Consequently, ectopic lipid concentrations, particularly in the liver, decrease with lifestyle-or drug-induced improvement of insulin sensitivity.