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Early beta-cell dysfunction characterizes males with type 2 diabetes of Yemenite origin



The aim of the current study was to characterize β-cell function, insulin sensitivity and line of inheritance in patients with recent-onset type 2 diabetes of Yemenite and non-Yemenite Jewish origin.


A cohort study including 121 GAD negative diabetic patients, 59 of Yemenite and 62 of non-Yemenite origin, treated by diet ± oral antihyperglycemic monotherapy who underwent 180-min meal tolerance test (MMT). Based on MMT, indexes of insulin resistance and secretion were calculated.


There were no significant differences in age, sex, diabetes duration, BMI, HbA1c and lipid profile. A significant difference was found in family history of diabetes: 63 % of patients of Yemenite origin had maternal inheritance versus 35 % in the non-Yemenite origin (p < 0.001). Both indexes of β-cell function, the insulinogenic and the disposition indexes were significantly lower in patients of Yemenite origin compared with non-Yemenite origin (0.66 ± 0.4 vs. 0.93 ± 0.8, p = 0.04; 2.3 ± 1.8 vs. 3.3 ± 3.3, p = 0.04, respectively) with no difference in insulin sensitivity. When females and males were analyzed separately, the difference in maternal inheritance remained significant in both, but the difference in β-cell function indexes was observed only in males (p = 0.03, p = 0.01, respectively).


Males with recent-onset diabetes of Yemenite origin have a significant reduction of β-cell function and reduced ability to compensate for insulin resistance compared with diabetic males of non-Yemenite origin. Both males and females of Yemenite origin have a significantly higher maternal inheritance of diabetes. These data suggest different underlying mechanisms leading to early loss of β-cell in diabetic males of Yemenite origin.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2



Alanine aminotransferase


Aspartate aminotransferase


Area under the curve


Bioelectric impedance


Body mass index


Disposition index


Dipeptidyl peptidase-4


Glutamic acid decarboxylase


High-density lipoprotein


Homeostasis model assessment




Low-density lipoprotein


Meal tolerance test




Non-Yemenite diabetes mellitus




Standard deviation




Yemenite diabetes mellitus


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The authors wish to thank Dt. Hillary Foot for statistical analysis. This work was supported by a Research Grant from Novo Nordisk and a joint Research Grant from the Institute for Medical Research, Israel–Canada, the Hebrew University, Kaplan Medical Center, and Eelebetamar organization, Israel.

Author contribution

Blaychfeld-Magnazi M. researched data, wrote manuscript, contributed to discussion, reviewed/edited manuscript. Zornitzki T. researched data, wrote manuscript, contributed to discussion, reviewed/edited manuscript. Ulman M. researched data, contributed to discussion. Madar Z. researched data, contributed to discussion, reviewed/edited manuscript. Knobler H. researched data, wrote manuscript, contributed to discussion, reviewed/edited manuscript.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Taiba Zornitzki.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

The study has been reviewed by an institutional review board, and has been performed in accordance with ethical standards laid down in an appropriate version of the 1964 of the Helsinki declaration.

Human and animal rights

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008 (5).

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

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Managed by Massimo Federici.

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Blaychfeld-Magnazi, M., Zornitzki, T., Ulman, M. et al. Early beta-cell dysfunction characterizes males with type 2 diabetes of Yemenite origin. Acta Diabetol 53, 567–574 (2016).

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  • β-cell function
  • Maternal inheritance
  • Insulin secretion
  • Ethnicity