A research team at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital has discovered a new biomarker that can predict diabetes prevalence using a blood test, the hospital said Friday.
The prevalence of diabetes is rapidly increasing both domestically and globally. According to the International Diabetes Federation, there are about 400 million people with diabetes, and the number is expected to reach 600 million by 2045.
Diabetes is a severe disease that causes damage and dysfunction to various organs of the body and causes complications of blood vessels, which significantly increases the social cost and mortality rate.
|From left, Professors Cho Nam-han, Choi Sung-hee, Kim Yoon-ji and Ku Eu-jeong|
As part of efforts to detect the disease at an early phase, an SNUBH team, led by Professor Choi Sung-hee, conducted decade-long follow-up research to clarify the long-term association between multiple cytokines and progression to diabetes. Professors Cho Nam-han, Ku Eu-jeong, Kim Yoon-ji also participated in the study.
The objective of the study was to identify which cytokines could predict progression to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes for 10 years. Cytokines are signals released from cells to control and stimulate the body's immune system. Some cytokines are known to induce inflammation and, when over-secreted, cause acute and chronic inflammation.
The study involved 912 participants aged 40 to 69 years at baseline from the Ansung cohort, part of the Korea Genome Epidemiology Study.
The researchers found that an increase in the retinol-binding protein-4 (RBP4), an inflammatory cytokine, increased the possibility of a healthy person to developing diabetes 5.48 times. In contrast, the decrease in adiponectin, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, increased the progression from the normal to diabetes by 3.37 times. Similarly, an increase in resistin, an inflammatory cytokine, increased the progression of diabetes from prediabetes by nearly three times.
"As the prevalence of diabetes is increasing worldwide and the mortality and morbidity associated with chronic complications are increasing, biomarkers are important for predicting diabetes," Professor Choi said. "The results of this study are expected to contribute to reducing the increasing social and economic burden by taking more proactive measures to prevent diabetes."
Professor Ku also said, "If a patient has a high level of inflammatory cytokines, they should have healthy eating habits, improve lifestyle, actively lose weight, and control chronic inflammation factors early to prevent progression to diabetes." Based on the results of this study, the data will likely be able to be used for active prevention in the medical field, Ku added.
The results of the research were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.