Biomarker Linked to Higher Diabetes Risk in Elderly

Fetuin-A blocks insulin action

TUESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- High blood levels of fetuin-A, a hepatic secretory protein that binds the insulin receptor and blocks insulin action, is associated with a higher risk of developing diabetes mellitus in healthy elderly individuals, according to research published in the July 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Joachim H. Ix, M.D., from the University of California San Diego, and colleagues retrospectively measured serum levels of fetuin-A in 406 healthy elderly individuals without diabetes.

During six years of follow-up, the researchers found that 135 individuals developed diabetes mellitus. Those with the highest levels of fetuin-A were at higher risk of diabetes than those with the lowest levels after adjusting for a number of demographic, clinical and behavioral factors (13.3 versus 6.5 cases per 1,000 person-years, adjusted hazard ratio 2.41). This higher risk was not affected by adipocytokine levels but moderately reduced after adjusting for visceral adiposity (adjusted hazard ratio 1.72).

"Among well-functioning older persons, serum fetuin-A is associated with incident diabetes, independent of other markers of insulin resistance," Ix and colleagues conclude.

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