Methods: We defined a structural equation model that describes the TC and fitted this within the IMI DIRECT dataset. A second model, twin-cycle plus physical activity (TC-PA), to assess the extent to which the effects of physical activity in glycaemic regulation are mediated by components in the twin-cycle, was also fitted. Beta cell function, insulin sensitivity and glycaemic control were modelled from frequently sampled 75 g OGTTs (fsOGTTs) and mixed-meal tolerance tests (MMTTs) in participants without and with diabetes, respectively. Abdominal fat distribution was assessed using MRI, and physical activity through wrist-worn triaxial accelerometry. Results are presented as standardised beta coefficients, SE and p values, respectively.
Results: The TC and TC-PA models showed better fit than null models (TC: χ2 = 242, p = 0.004 and χ2 = 63, p = 0.001 in cohort 1 and 2, respectively; TC-PA: χ2 = 180, p = 0.041 and χ2 = 60, p = 0.008 in cohort 1 and 2, respectively). The association of physical activity with glycaemic control was primarily mediated by variables in the liver fat cycle.
Conclusions/interpretation: These analyses partially support the mechanisms proposed in the twin-cycle model and highlight mechanistic pathways through which insulin sensitivity and liver fat mediate the association between physical activity and glycaemic control.
- Beta cell function
- Ectopic fat
- Glycaemic control
- Insulin sensitivity
- Physical activity
- Structural equation modelling
- Type 2 diabetes