Researchers at the Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital have identified a biomarker that can predict diabetes risk up to 10 years before onset of the disease.
Thomas J. Wang, M.D., director of the Division of Cardiology at Vanderbilt, along with colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital, report their findings in the October issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The researchers conducted a study of 188 individuals who developed type 2 diabetes mellitus and 188 individuals without diabetes who were followed for 12 years as participants in the Framingham Heart Study.
"From the baseline blood samples, we identified a novel biomarker, 2-aminoadipic acid (2-AAA), that was higher in people who went on to develop diabetes than in those who did not," Wang said. "That information was above and beyond knowing their blood sugar at baseline, knowing whether they were obese, or had other characteristics that put them at risk."
Individuals who had 2-AAA concentrations in the top quartile had up to a fourfold risk of developing diabetes during the 12-year follow-up period compared with people in the lowest quartile.
"The caveat with these new biomarkers is that they require further evaluation in other populations and further work to determine how this information might be used clinically," Wang said.
The researchers also conducted laboratory studies to understand why this biomarker is elevated so well in advance of the onset of diabetes. They found that giving 2-AAA to mice alters the way they metabolize glucose. These molecules seem to influence the function of the pancreas, which is responsible for making insulin, the hormone that tells the body to take up blood sugar.
"2-AAA appears to be more than a passive marker. It actually seems to play a role in glucose metabolism," Wang said. "It is still a bit early to understand the biological implications of t
|Contact: Kathy Whitney|
Vanderbilt University Medical Center