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Intra-pancreatic fat deposition: bringing hidden fat to the fore

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Roy Taylor


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© 2021, Springer Nature Limited.Development of advanced modalities for detection of fat within the pancreas has transformed understanding of the role of intra-pancreatic fat deposition (IPFD) in health and disease. There is now strong evidence for the presence of minimal (but not negligible) IPFD in healthy human pancreas. Diffuse excess IPFD, or fatty pancreas disease (FPD), is more frequent than type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) (the most common disease of the endocrine pancreas) and acute pancreatitis (the most common disease of the exocrine pancreas) combined. FPD is not strictly a function of high BMI; it can result from the excess deposition of fat in the islets of Langerhans, acinar cells, inter-lobular stroma, acinar-to-adipocyte trans-differentiation or replacement of apoptotic acinar cells. This process leads to a wide array of diseases characterized by excess IPFD, including but not limited to acute pancreatitis, chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, T2DM, diabetes of the exocrine pancreas. There is ample evidence for FPD being potentially reversible. Weight loss-induced decrease of intra-pancreatic fat is tightly associated with remission of T2DM and its re-deposition with recurrence of the disease. Reversing FPD will open up opportunities for preventing or intercepting progression of major diseases of the exocrine pancreas in the future.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Petrov MS, Taylor R

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Year: 2022

Volume: 19

Pages: 153-168

Online publication date: 08/12/2021

Acceptance date: 04/11/2021

ISSN (print): 1759-5045

ISSN (electronic): 1759-5053

Publisher: Nature Research


DOI: 10.1038/s41575-021-00551-0