Understanding the Role of Hepatic Insulin Resistance in Visceral Obesity and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Oct. 17, 2023 by Ava Green

non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

In the realm of metabolic health, abdominal visceral obesity (AVO) stands out as a significant concern. It's a primary component of the metabolic syndrome (MS), a condition that increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Interestingly, AVO is also linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is an even more potent predictor of diabetes onset.

But what drives the development of these conditions? A recent study delves deep into the role of hepatic insulin resistance in the onset of both AVO and NAFLD.

The Central Role of Hepatic Insulin Resistance

Hepatic insulin resistance, or the liver's reduced response to insulin, has long been suspected to play a role in various metabolic disorders. This study presents compelling evidence that hepatic insulin resistance is a primary cause of:

  • NAFLD: This is due to increased lipid synthesis in the liver, storage of these lipids, and the uptake of remnant lipoproteins.
  • Visceral Obesity: The resistance leads to a cascade of metabolic changes, including dyslipidemia, elevated levels of uric acid, increased insulin and fructose in the blood, reduced glycine levels, and increased levels of certain proteins like fetuin A and C-reactive protein.

The fact that hepatic insulin resistance can lead to both visceral obesity and NAFLD explains why some individuals develop obesity first and then NAFLD, while others experience the reverse. The sequence can vary based on factors like gender.

Markers and Management

Given the central role of hepatic insulin resistance in these conditions, identifying markers for this resistance can be invaluable. For instance, the ratio of serum uric acid to high-density lipoprotein has been identified as a potential marker. Recognizing the risk early can pave the way for targeted interventions.

Interestingly, certain interventions like endurance exercise and bariatric surgery have shown promise in reducing hepatic insulin resistance even before there's a noticeable reduction in visceral obesity or NAFLD. This suggests that addressing the root cause can have cascading benefits for metabolic health.

The intricate relationship between hepatic insulin resistance, visceral obesity, and NAFLD underscores the need for a holistic approach to metabolic health. By understanding the underlying mechanisms, clinicians can better predict, prevent, and manage these conditions, leading to improved outcomes for patients.

Source: Hepatic Insulin Resistance Drives Visceral Obesity and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease