Natalie Mora, M.D., M.P.H.

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Endocrinology Fellow
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Project Title: “Exploring the Relationship Between Insulin Resistance and Lipoprotein Subclass Profile in a Diverse Population of Hispanics”

The relationship between type 2 diabetes, unhealthy levels of blood lipids, high blood pressure, smoking, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been well established. CVD is a leading cause of death among Hispanics/Latinos in the United States. While early studies of CVD risk factor prevalence in Hispanics involved mostly Mexican Americans, later research that also involved Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Cubans showed considerably more varied risk factors. Meanwhile, the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes among Hispanics, coupled with the growth of the Hispanic population in the United States, highlights an important clinical and public health issue.

Type 2 diabetes patients often have unhealthy levels of blood lipids, including high levels of triglycerides, combined with low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Lipoprotein abnormalities in diabetes typically include large concentrations of small dense LDL (low-density lipoprotein) particles, small HDL particles, and large very low LDL particles. Higher numbers of small dense LDL particles, as well as small HDL particles, have been associated with fatty masses in artery walls. In addition, elevated triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, which have varying size, density, and composition, are associated with cardiovascular risk and are commonly seen with insulin resistance (IR). Previous studies have shown a strong correlation between IR and lipoprotein particle size and quantity.

The researchers aim to understand the relationship between insulin resistance and lipoprotein particles in major Hispanic groups. That knowledge may explain Hispanic groups’ different CVD risks and lead to more ethnic-specific recommendations for treating type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and unhealthy levels of blood lipids.