Plasma lipids and lipoproteins, glucose tolerance, plasma insulin response to glucose load, and liver function were examined in 81 relatives of 12 index cases with primary endogenous hypertriglyceridemia, hyperinsulinemia, and hepatic steatosis, as well as in 90 nonrelatives, including the spouses, as controls. Insulin hypersecretion (with or without glucose intolerance), endogenous hypertriglyceridemia, and abnormal liver function suggesting hepatic steatosis were shown to exist in the relatives mostly in combined fashion. Correlation analysis and stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that the combined disorder developed on the basis of obesity. The incidence of diabetes mellitus was significantly high in the relatives (14.8 per cent) as compared with the normal Japanese population (3.5 per cent).
Although the vertical transmission of the combined disorder was noted in almost all pedigrees, the frequency distribution analysis of insulin response, glucose tolerance, and plasma triglyceride showed the histograms of these variables similarly skewed to the right as compared with those in the controls, with no apparent bimodality.
In view of the hitherto suggested role of insulin in triglyceride metabolism, it is concluded that hyperinsulinemia coupled with obesity seems to be the basic trait of this form of familial hypertriglyceridemia and hepatic steatosis, though the mode of transmission remains to be elucidated.