Thomas J. Wang, M.D., director of the Division of Cardiology at Vanderbilt, along with colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital, 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.
Wang said that from the baseline blood samples, that they 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.
Individuals having 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.
Wang asserted that 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.
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.
The findings have been published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.