UF study aims to assess prevalence of fatty liver in African-Americans

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Kenneth Cusi, M.D., Division Chief, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Florida

A fatty liver is now the most common chronic liver condition in adult Americans and will soon be the leading cause of end-stage liver disease in patients that are obese or have type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Researchers from the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism in the University of Florida College of Medicine want to understand whether African-Americans accumulate fat in their livers in a similar way to Caucasians and Hispanics.

As many as 80% of obese subjects and patients with diabetes have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. However, there is a common held belief among hepatologists and endocrinologists that African-Americans are somehow protected against having a fatty liver. The assertion stems from a frequent under-representation of this population in previous studies, and therefore, it is still unclear whether they are prone to developing a fatty liver or not.

Dr. Kenneth Cusi, Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism has received a grant from the American Diabetes Association to address this question. “We believe that this study is clinically important, as it will help us to understand the role that the African-American ethnicity plays in the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).”

Individuals are currently being recruiting for this 5-visit study, in which subjects will be screened using a series of state-of-the-art non-invasive imaging tools, such as magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy to quantify liver fat, and a euglycemic insulin clamp to assess how the body reacts to insulin.

For more information about the “Prevalence of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Disease Severity among African Americans with Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes” pilot study, please call (352) 273-8662.