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Metabolite levels may be able to improve diabetes risk prediction
Date:3/20/2011

Measuring the levels of small molecules in the blood may be able to identify individuals at elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes as much as a decade before symptoms of the disorder appear. In a report receiving advance online release in Nature Medicine, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers describes finding that levels of five amino acids not only indicated increased diabetes risk in a general population but also could differentiate, among individuals with traditional risk factors such as obesity, those most likely to actually develop diabetes.

"These findings could provide insight into metabolic pathways that are altered very early in the process leading to diabetes," says lead author Thomas Wang, MD, of the MGH Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC) and Division of Cardiology. "They also raise the possibility that, in selected individuals, these measurements could identify those at highest risk of developing diabetes so that early preventive measures could be instituted."

New technologies to measure levels of metabolites -- small molecules produced by metabolic activities and released into the bloodstream -- are giving investigators increased insight into an individual's metabolic status. Since the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes marks the culmination of a years-long breakdown of the body's system for metabolizing glucose, the ability to detect that breakdown at a stage when lifestyle changes could halt the process may significantly reduce the incidence of the disease. Known risk factors such as obesity and elevated glucose levels often signify that diabetes actually is present, so earlier identification of at-risk individuals is critical to more effective preventive measures, the authors note.

Some earlier studies had found elevated levels of certain amino acids in individuals who are obese or have insulin resistance, a condition that precedes full-blown type 2 diabetes. But no previous s
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Contact: Marty Ray
aray6@partners.org
617-726-0274
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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