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EDMA endorses the campaign against excessive use of salt

December 19, 2015

This analysis found that elevations in five amino acids -- isoleucine, leucine, valine, tyrosine and phenylalanine -- were significantly associated with the later development of type 2 diabetes. Several of these amino acids were the same ones found in smaller studies to be elevated in individuals with obesity or insulin resistance, and other evidence has suggested they may directly affect glucose regulation. The association of levels of these five amino acids with future diabetes development was replicated in 326 participants in the Malmo Diet and Cancer Study.

The investigators then found that measuring combinations of several metabolites, as opposed to a single amino acid, improved risk prediction. Overall, in individuals closely matched for traditional risk factors for type 2 diabetes, those with the highest levels of the three most predictive amino acids had a four to five times greater risk of developing diabetes than did those with the lowest levels.

"Several groups have suggested that these amino acids can aberrantly activate an important metabolic pathway involved in cellular growth or can somehow poison the mitochondria that provide cellular energy," says Robert Gerszten, MD, director of Clinical and Translational Research for the MGH Heart Center, the paper's senior author. "From a clinical perspective, we need to see if these markers, which we found using data from only about 1,000 individuals, do identify truly high-risk individuals who should be triaged to early preventive treatment and intensive lifestyle interventions. Additional basic investigations can reveal if these metabolites play a role in the process leading to diabetes and if there are ways we can stop the damage." Gerszten and Wang are both associate professors of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Source: Massachusetts General Hospital