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Blood biomarker predicts type 2 diabetes risk up to 19 years before onset

Date: 12.11.2021 

A new study is proposing blood levels of a specific protein may serve as a useful predictor of type 2 diabetes developing up to two decades before any symptoms appear. The findings indicate a diagnostic blood test could be deployed to offer people a way to assess their future risk of developing the disease.

Kredit: Tannim101 / Wikimedia Commons.Follistatin is a protein initially discovered in the late 1980s and studied for its role as a reproductive hormone. It is secreted by almost all tissues in the human body and subsequently has been found to play a significant role in many metabolic processes.

The liver is one of the primary secretors of follistatin. Over the last decade researchers have found patients with type 2 diabetes often display elevated blood levels of this protein, so this new research set out to clarify whether these elevated blood follistatin levels precede the development of type 2 diabetes.

Looking at data from the Malmö Diet and Cancer Cardiovascular Cohort, an ongoing long-term health study, the researchers studied follistatin levels in nearly 5,000 subjects. Independent of other risk factors the researchers found high circulating follistatin levels were associated with the development of type 2 diabetes long before the disease developed.

We found that higher levels of the protein follistatin circulating in the blood predict type 2 diabetes up to 19 years before the onset of the disease, regardless of other known risk factors, such as age, body mass index (BMI), fasting blood glucose levels, diet or physical activity," says lead author on the new study, Yang De Marinis.





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