Non-traditional biomarkers and incident diabetes in the Diabetes Prevention Program: comparative effects of lifestyle and metformin interventions

Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Aims/hypothesis: We compared the associations of circulating biomarkers of inflammation, endothelial and adipocyte dysfunction and coagulation with incident diabetes in the placebo, lifestyle and metformin intervention arms of the Diabetes Prevention Program, a randomised clinical trial, to determine whether reported associations in general populations are reproduced in individuals with impaired glucose tolerance, and whether these associations are independent of traditional diabetes risk factors. We further investigated whether biomarker–incident diabetes associations are influenced by interventions that alter pathophysiology, biomarker concentrations and rates of incident diabetes. Methods: The Diabetes Prevention Program randomised 3234 individuals with impaired glucose tolerance into placebo, metformin (850 mg twice daily) and intensive lifestyle groups and showed that metformin and lifestyle reduced incident diabetes by 31% and 58%, respectively compared with placebo over an average follow-up period of 3.2 years. For this study, we measured adiponectin, leptin, tissue plasminogen activator (as a surrogate for plasminogen activator inhibitor 1), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, IL-6, monocyte chemotactic protein 1, fibrinogen, E-selectin and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 at baseline and at 1 year by specific immunoassays. Traditional diabetes risk factors were defined as family history, HDL-cholesterol, triacylglycerol, BMI, fasting and 2 h glucose, HbA1c, systolic blood pressure, inverse of fasting insulin and insulinogenic index. Cox proportional hazard models were used to assess the effects of each biomarker on the development of diabetes assessed semi-annually and the effects of covariates on these. Results: E-selectin, (HR 1.19 [95% CI 1.06, 1.34]), adiponectin (0.84 [0.71, 0.99]) and tissue plasminogen activator (1.13 [1.03, 1.24]) were associated with incident diabetes in the placebo group, independent of diabetes risk factors. Only the association between adiponectin and diabetes was maintained in the lifestyle (0.69 [0.52, 0.92]) and metformin groups (0.79 [0.66, 0.94]). E-selectin was not related to diabetes development in either lifestyle or metformin groups. A novel association appeared for change in IL-6 in the metformin group (1.09 [1.021, 1.173]) and for baseline leptin in the lifestyle groups (1.31 [1.06, 1.63]). Conclusions/interpretation: These findings clarify associations between an extensive group of biomarkers and incident diabetes in a multi-ethnic cohort with impaired glucose tolerance, the effects of diabetes risk factors on these, and demonstrate differential modification of associations by interventions. They strengthen evidence linking adiponectin to diabetes development, and argue against a central role for endothelial dysfunction. The findings have implications for the pathophysiology of diabetes development and its prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-69
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Adiponectin
  • Biomarkers
  • C-reactive protein
  • Diabetes prevention
  • E-selectin
  • Interleukin 6
  • Leptin
  • Lifestyle change
  • Metformin
  • Tissue plasminogen activator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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