UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Circulatory miRNAs as Correlates of Elevated Intra-Pancreatic Fat Deposition in a Mixed Ethnic Female Cohort: The TOFI_Asia Study Ramzan, Farha; Sequeira-Bisson, Ivana R.; Lu, Louise W.; Mitchell, Cameron J.; D’Souza, Randall F.; Vickers, Mark H.; Poppitt, Sally D.; Cameron-Smith, David


Ectopic lipid accumulation, including intra-pancreatic fat deposition (IPFD), exacerbates type 2 diabetes risk in susceptible individuals. Dysregulated circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) have been identified as correlating with clinical measures of pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and type 1 diabetes. The aim of the current study was therefore to examine the association between circulating abundances of candidate miRNAs, IPFD and liver fat deposition as quantified using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS). Asian Chinese (n = 34; BMI = 26.7 ± 4.2 kg/m2) and European Caucasian (n = 34; BMI = 28.0 ± 4.5 kg/m2) females from the TOFI_Asia cohort underwent MRI and MRS analysis of pancreas (MR-%IPFD) and liver fat (MR-%liver fat), respectively, to quantify ectopic lipid deposition. Plasma miRNA abundances of a subset of circulatory miRNAs associated with IPFD and liver fat deposition were quantified by qRT-PCR. miR-21-3p and miR-320a-5p correlated with MR-%IPFD, plasma insulin and HOMA2-IR, but not MR-%liver fat. MR-%IPFD remained associated with decreasing miR-21-3p abundance following multivariate regression analysis. miR-21-3p and miR-320a were demonstrated to be negatively correlated with MR-%IPFD, independent of ethnicity. For miR-21-3p, this relationship persists with the inclusion of MR-%liver fat in the model, suggesting the potential for a wider application as a specific circulatory correlate of IPFD.

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