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New Blood Test Can Assess Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 23 Feb 2024

The chronic and progressive nature of diabetes, along with its associated comorbidities, underscores the critical need for prompt action to tackle this significant health concern. Currently, the most widely utilized biomarker to forecast the risk of type 2 diabetes is high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP). Recent studies, however, have indicated that assessing a combination of biomarkers, rather than evaluating each one separately, could enhance the ability to predict the risk of diabetes and its complications. Now, a new study has found that a blood test for jointly assessing biomarkers could potentially be used to predict a patient's risk of type 2 diabetes.

In the study, researchers from Edith Cowan University (Joondalup, Australia) examined the relationship between systemic inflammation, measured through a combined analysis of high-sensitivity CRP and another biomarker known as the monocyte to high-density lipoprotein ratio (MHR), and the onset of type 2 diabetes. This study tracked over 40,800 participants who did not have diabetes for nearly a decade, during which more than 4,800 participants developed the condition. Among those who developed type 2 diabetes, a significant interaction between MHR and CRP was noted. Specifically, as the MHR increased within each CRP category, so did the risk of developing type 2 diabetes; simultaneous increases in MHR and CRP were linked to significantly higher rates and risks of developing diabetes.

Image: Jointly assessing biomarkers in a blood test could potentially predict type 2 diabetic risks (Photo courtesy of Edith Cowan University)
Image: Jointly assessing biomarkers in a blood test could potentially predict type 2 diabetic risks (Photo courtesy of Edith Cowan University)

Moreover, the study revealed that the link between chronic inflammation (as indicated by the combined MHR and CRP levels) and new cases of diabetes was strongly dependent on age and sex and was affected by conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, or prediabetes. Adding MHR and CRP to the clinical risk model markedly enhanced the prediction of new diabetes cases. The study also found that women were at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes due to joint increases in CRP and MHR, with sex hormones playing a role in these differences. These findings supported the role of chronic inflammation in the early development of diabetes and underscored the need for targeted attention.

While age and genetics are factors that cannot be modified, other risk factors can be altered through changes in lifestyle. Inflammation is heavily influenced by lifestyle and metabolic conditions, including diet, sleep disturbances, chronic stress, and imbalances in glucose and cholesterol. This suggests the potential benefits of monitoring metabolic conditions related to risk. The cost-effectiveness and widespread availability of combined MHR and CRP testing in current clinical practice make these measures a promising and convenient tool for predicting diabetes risk.

"Epidemiological evidence indicates a consistent increase in early-onset diabetes, especially in developing countries,” said ECU researcher Dan Wu. “Leveraging this age-specific association between chronic inflammation and type 2 diabetes may be a promising method for achieving early identification of at-risk young adults and developing personalized interventions."

Related Links:
Edith Cowan University

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