Robert Gerszten and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital reported the identification of a metabolite marker that identifies those people most likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the Sept. 16, 2013, edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The significance of the discovery is the ability to predict the potential for type 2 diabetes as much as 12 years in advance of the actual development of the disease.
The metabolite 2-aminoadipic acid (2-AAA) is a biomarker for type 2 diabetes risk. Persons with high levels of 2-AAA were four times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as those with low levels of 2-AAA. The detection of 2-AAA is a simple test that can be done from a blood sample.
The discovery was based on human sampling from the Framingham Heart Study that tracked potentially diabetic people and those that had no potential for diabetes for 12 years. The validity of 2-AAA as a biomarker for diabetes was confirmed in mouse studies that compared fasting plasma glucose levels in mice that ate a high fat diet with mice that ate a regular diet. 2-AAA administered to mice and humans increased insulin production.
The researchers found no correlation with and no interference from any other known biomarkers for diabetes.
The researchers see this discovery as a huge benefit in health care cost savings for the majority of overweight and obese persons who refuse to do anything about their risk for type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is preventable.