Blood proteins indicating early artery damage may also warn of Type 2 diabetes. Researchers evaluating records of blood taken from 32,826 women say they found evidence of artery damage as much as 8 years before diabetes was diagnosed.
Researchers analyzed blood work records from 1989 and 1990 as part of the Nurses' Health Study. They looked for elevated levels of three blood proteins: E-selectin, ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule-1), and VCAM-1 (vascular cell adhesion molecule-1). Elevations in these proteins suggest irritated or damaged cells lining blood vessel walls.
In the decade following their blood tests, 737 of the women developed Type 2 diabetes. From the records, the researchers made these findings:
* Women with the highest levels of E-selectin were about five times more likely to develop diabetes than women with the lowest levels.
* Those with the highest ICAM-1 levels had a risk that was about three times greater than that for women with the lowest levels.
* Elevated VCAM-1 levels increased the risk of disease in some, but not all, women.
Cells that line the blood vessels produce E-selectin, sometimes in response to inflammation. White blood cells and vessel-lining cells produce the other two proteins in response to inflammation.
These findings further strengthen the link between diabetes and silent inflammation.
"Biomarkers of Endothelial Dysfunction and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus," JAMA, J. Meigs, et al., April 28, 2004.