Recent evidence has revealed that a change of functional beta cell mass is an essential factor of the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Since beta cell dysfunction is not only present in T2DM but also progressively worsens with disease duration, to preserve or recover functional beta cell mass is important in both prevention of the development of T2DM and therapeutic strategies for T2DM. Furthermore, ethnic difference in functional beta cell mass may also need to be taken into account. Recent evidences suggest that Asians have less beta cell functional capacity compared with Caucasians. Preservation or recovery of functional beta cell mass seems to be further emphasized for Asians because of the limited capacity of beta cell. This review summarizes the current knowledge on beta cell dysfunction in T2DM and discusses the similarities and differences in functional beta cell mass between ethnicities in the face of obesity and T2DM.
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