OBJECTIVE: A drastic difference is evident in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes among ethnic groups. We examined the role of beta-cell function and insulin sensitivity in this disparity among 4 ethnic groups. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: beta-Cell function and insulin sensitivity were assessed in 77 healthy glucose-tolerant subjects using a hyperglycemic clamp (18 Asian-Americans, 9 African-Americans, 34 Caucasians, and 16 Mexican-Americans). RESULTS: A wide range of variation was evident in clinical features of the studied subjects. Insulin sensitivity index and the second-phase insulin response differed among the 4 groups (P = 0.0023 and P = 0.0082, respectively), whereas the first-phase insulin response was marginally different (P = 0.1090). Stepwise regression analysis revealed that ethnicity was an independent determinant for the insulin sensitivity index (P = 0.0014) after adjusting for sex, age, diastolic blood pressure, waist-to-hip ratio, and BMI. Also, a compensatory response of beta-cell function was observed among the ethnic groups. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we observed a drastic difference in insulin sensitivity among the different ethnic groups and observed that their beta-cell function compensates for the prevailing insulin sensitivity. The difference in the prevalence of abnormal glucose tolerance in different ethnic groups could be a result of differences in insulin sensitivity

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