Study identifies possible protective blood factors against Type 2 diabetes

May 3, 2012

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in collaboration with Nurses' Health Study investigators have shown that levels of certain related proteins found in blood are associated with a greatly reduced risk for developing type 2 diabetes up to a decade or more later. The findings, published today in the online edition of Diabetes, could open a new front in the war against diabetes.

These proteins are part of what is called the IGF axis. This axis was named for insulin-like growth factor-1, (IGF-1), so called because it has biological effects similar to those of insulin (the hormone that regulates ) but has a greater effect on cell growth than insulin. The researchers also looked at levels of several proteins known as IGF , or IGFBPs, that may have strong effects independent of IGF-1.

Researchers have hypothesized that the IGF axis may influence risk for developing diabetes – an idea supported by laboratory and mouse studies, and a few initial studies in humans. However, the current study is the first large, prospective investigation of several components of the IGF-axis and the risk for developing diabetes, according to co-senior author Howard Strickler, M.D., M.P.H., professor of epidemiology & population health at Einstein.

In the current study, the researchers analyzed levels of IGF-1, IGFBP-1, IGFBP-2, and IGFBP-3 in blood taken from 742 women in the Nurses' Health Study who years later developed type 2 diabetes as well as a similar number of women in the study who did not develop diabetes. None of the women had any signs or symptoms of the disease at the time their blood samples were taken. The median time between the taking of blood samples and diabetes onset was nine years.

Each component of the IGF axis (IGF-1 and IGFBP-1, -2, and -3) had a significant independent association with diabetes risk – most notably IGFBP-1 and -2. Compared with women in the bottom 20 percent with respect to their levels of IGFBP-1, having high levels of IGFBP-1 (top 20 percent) was associated with a three-fold reduction in risk for diabetes, while high levels of IGFBP-2 were associated with a more than five-fold reduction in diabetes risk.

"Our data provide important new evidence that circulating IGF-axis proteins may have a role in the development of ," said Dr. Strickler.

The findings have potential clinical implications. First of all, IGF-axis proteins could help in stratifying people at risk for diabetes. "For example," said Dr. Strickler, "we know that obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes. But some overweight individuals don't develop diabetes, while some thin people do. If our findings are confirmed, they could help doctors more precisely determine who is actually at risk for the disease."

The proteins may also prove useful as targets for novel therapies to prevent or treat diabetes. But Dr. Strickler cautions that it's too early to apply these findings to clinical practice. "IGF-axis proteins have other effects, some beneficial and some not," he notes. "We need to learn more about the connection between the IGF-axis and diabetes before we recommend that people get tested for these substances, and before deciding how we can exploit the IGF-1 axis to help address ."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Screen time linked to diabetes

July 28, 2017
Daily screen time of three or more hours is linked to several risk factors associated with the development of diabetes in children, according to a study by St George's, University of London.

People who drink 3 to 4 times per week less likely to develop diabetes than those who never drink: study

July 27, 2017
Frequent alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes in both men and women, according to a new study published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes), with ...

Diabetes can be tracked with our Google searches

July 26, 2017
The emergence of Type 2 Diabetes could be more effectively monitored using our Google searches—helping public health officials keep track of the disease and halt its spread—according to research by the University of Warwick.

Scientists discover a new way to treat type 2 diabetes

July 21, 2017
Medication currently being used to treat obesity is also proving to have significant health benefits for patients with type 2 diabetes. A new study published today in Molecular Metabolism explains how this therapeutic benefit ...

Alzheimer's drug cuts hallmark inflammation related to metabolic syndrome by 25 percent

July 20, 2017
An existing Alzheimer's medication slashes inflammation and insulin resistance in patients with metabolic syndrome, a potential therapeutic intervention for a highly dangerous condition affecting 30 percent of adults in the ...

Diabetes or its precursor affects 100 million Americans

July 19, 2017
Almost one-third of the US population—100 million people—either has diabetes or its precursor condition, known as pre-diabetes, said a government report Tuesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.