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Approved Research

Causes and consequences of fat distribution patterns in the liver, pancreas, skeletal muscle, heart, kidney, and visceral bed

Principal Investigator: Dr Hajime Yamazaki
Approved Research ID: 93426
Approval date: February 22nd 2023

Lay summary

Obesity is defined as the accumulation of excessive fat. Fat can accumulate in various organs in the human body, including the liver, pancreas, muscle, kidneys, heart, and visceral bed. There are substantial individual differences in fat accumulation patterns. Based on the fat content in the liver, pancreas, muscle, and visceral bed, we recently identified four specific patterns of fat distribution, each associated with a different diabetes risk: liver fat pattern (mainly liver fat and visceral fat), pancreatic fat pattern (mainly pancreatic fat, visceral fat, and muscle fat), muscle fat pattern (only muscle fat), and low fat pattern (low fat in organs). However, we have not obtained sufficient data on whether these fat distribution patterns can be extrapolated to large populations, what potential health-related events (e.g., diabetes, liver diseases, and pancreas diseases) these fat distribution patterns lead to, why individual differences in fat distribution occur, and how adding fat content to other organs, such as the heart and kidneys, changes the fat distribution patterns . Fat in the organs can be an indicator of organ quality, while organ volume reflects organ quantity; therefore, we would evaluate the effects of both fat and organ volume in our project. We will address the above questions using UK Biobank data, including imaging and genetic data, physical measures, laboratory data, questionnaires, and health-related event data. During our project, with an expected duration of 36 months, we believe that we could answer the above questions. The generated data and evidence from our project would substantially contribute to personalized recommendations using imaging modalities for the prevention of lifestyle-related diseases, such as diabetes.