Predicting Diabetes in Still-Healthy People

The three inflammatory cytokines are: tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a); interleukin-6 (IL-6); and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP). Low-grade chronic inflammation of the body, which is reflected by elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines in the blood stream, may promote insulin resistance in the liver, muscles, and the vascular endothelium cells, the layer of thin, flat cells that lines the interior surface of blood vessels. Such inflammation can last for years before leading to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or hypertension.

A blood test that looks for high levels of inflammatory cytokines could serve as an accurate predictor of diabetes in still-healthy people, years ahead of the traditional risk factors of obesity or insulin resistance.

In this large scale, multiethnic study Simin Liu, professor of epidemiology and medicine with a joint appointment in the School of Public Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) and colleagues took baseline level measurements of inflammatory cytokines in apparently healthy women without any signs of diabetes who were between the ages of 50 and 79 years-old, then tracked their health for the next six years. At the time of follow-up, the researchers compared 1,584 women, now diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and matched them by age, ethnicity and other factors to 2,198 other women in the study who remained free of the disease.

While all three cytokines were found to be significantly related to an increased risk of clinical diabetes, hs-CRP appeared to be a more consistent predictor of increased risk in all four examined ethnic groups. These associations were independent of traditional risk factors such as obesity or elevated levels of glucose and insulin.; Source: University of California - Los Angeles