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1.  Development and Validation of a Predicting Model of All-Cause Mortality in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(9):2830-2835.
To develop and validate a parsimonious model for predicting short-term all-cause mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
Two cohorts of patients with T2DM were investigated. The Gargano Mortality Study (GMS, n = 679 patients) was the training set and the Foggia Mortality Study (FMS, n = 936 patients) represented the validation sample. GMS and FMS cohorts were prospectively followed up for 7.40 ±2.15 and 4.51 ±1.69 years, respectively, and all-cause mortality was registered. A new forward variable selection within a multivariate Cox regression was implemented. Starting from the empty model, each step selected the predictor that, once included into the multivariate Cox model, yielded the maximum continuous net reclassification improvement (cNRI). The selection procedure stopped when no further statistically significant cNRI increase was detected.
Nine variables (age, BMI, diastolic blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio, and antihypertensive and insulin therapy) were included in the final predictive model with a C statistic of 0.88 (95% CI 0.82–0.94) in the GMS and 0.82 (0.76–0.87) in the FMS. Finally, we used a recursive partition and amalgamation algorithm to identify patients at intermediate and high mortality risk (hazard ratio 7.0 and 24.4, respectively, as compared with those at low risk). A web-based risk calculator was also developed.
We developed and validated a parsimonious all-cause mortality equation in T2DM, providing also a user-friendly web-based risk calculator. Our model may help prioritize the use of available resources for targeting aggressive preventive and treatment strategies in a subset of very high-risk individuals.
PMCID: PMC3747924  PMID: 23637348
2.  Clinical heterogeneity of abnormal glucose homeostasis associated with the HNF4A R311H mutation 
PMCID: PMC4100025  PMID: 24947580
Diabetes mellitus; HNF4A-MODY; Monogenic diabetes; Children; Adults; Gestational diabetes; Type 2 diabetes
3.  Joint effect of insulin signalling genes on cardiovascular events and on whole body and endothelial insulin resistance 
Atherosclerosis  2012;226(1):140-145.
Insulin resistance (IR) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) share a common soil. We investigated the combined role of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) affecting insulin signaling (ENPP1 K121Q, rs1044498; IRS1 G972R, rs1801278; TRIB3 Q84R, rs2295490) on CVD, age at myocardial infarction (MI), in vivo insulin sensitivity and in vitro insulin-stimulated nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity.
Design and Setting
1. We first studied, incident cardiovascular events (a composite endpoint comprising myocardial infarction -MI-, stroke and cardiovascular death) in 733 patients (2,186 person-years, 175 events). 2. In a replication attempt, age at MI was tested in 331 individuals. 3. OGTT-derived insulin sensitivity index (ISI) was assessed in 829 individuals with fasting glucose < 126 mg/dl. 4. NOS activity was measured in 40 strains of human vein endothelial cells (HUVECs).
1. Risk variants jointly predicted cardiovascular events (HR=1.181; p=0.0009) and, when added to clinical risk factors, significantly improved survival C-statistics; they also allowed a significantly correct reclassification (by net reclassification index) in the whole sample (135/733 individuals) and, even more, in obese patients (116/204 individuals). 2. Risk variants were jointly associated with age at MI (p=0.006). 3. A significant association was also observed with ISI (p=0.02). 4. Finally, risk variants were jointly associated with insulin-stimulated NOS activity in HUVECs (p=0.009).
Insulin signaling genes variants jointly affect cardiovascular disease, very likely by promoting whole body and endothelium-specific insulin resistance. Further studies are needed to address whether their genotyping help identify very high-risk patients who need specific and/or more aggressive preventive strategies.
PMCID: PMC3529747  PMID: 23107043
genetic susceptibility; non synonymous polymorphism; insulin sensitivity; insulin dependent endothelial function
4.  GALNT2 Expression Is Reduced in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: Possible Role of Hyperglycemia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70159.
Impaired insulin action plays a major role in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes, a chronic metabolic disorder which imposes a tremendous burden to morbidity and mortality worldwide. Unraveling the molecular mechanisms underlying insulin resistance would improve setting up preventive and treatment strategies of type 2 diabetes. Down-regulation of GALNT2, an UDPN-acetyl-alpha-D-galactosamine polypeptideN-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase-2 (ppGalNAc-T2), causes impaired insulin signaling and action in cultured human liver cells. In addition, GALNT2 mRNA levels are down-regulated in liver of spontaneously insulin resistant, diabetic Goto-Kakizaki rats. To investigate the role of GALNT2 in human hyperglycemia, we measured GALNT2 mRNA expression levels in peripheral whole blood cells of 84 non-obese and 46 obese non-diabetic individuals as well as of 98 obese patients with type 2 diabetes. We also measured GALNT2 mRNA expression in human U937 cells cultured under different glucose concentrations. In vivo studies indicated that GALNT2 mRNA levels were significantly reduced from non obese control to obese non diabetic and to obese diabetic individuals (p<0.001). In vitro studies showed that GALNT2 mRNA levels was reduced in U937 cells exposed to high glucose concentrations (i.e. 25 mmol/l glucose) as compared to cells exposed to low glucose concentration (i.e. 5.5 mmol/l glucose +19.5 mmol/l mannitol). In conclusion, our data indicate that GALNT2 is down-regulated in patients with type 2 diabetes and suggest that this association is, at least partly, secondary to hyperglycemia. Further studies are needed to understand whether GALNT2 down-regulation plays a pathogenic role in maintaining and/or aggravating the metabolic abnormalities of diabetic milieu.
PMCID: PMC3718685  PMID: 23894607
5.  Serum Resistin and Kidney Function: A Family-Based Study in Non-Diabetic, Untreated Individuals 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38414.
High serum resistin levels have been associated with kidney dysfunction. Most of these studies have been carried out in individuals with severe kidney impairment, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and related treatments. Thus, the observed association might have been influenced by these confounders. Our aim was to study the relationship between serum resistin, urinary albumin/creatinine ratio (ACR) and glomerular filtration rate (GFR) in a family-based sample, the Gargano Family Study (GFS) of 635 non diabetic, untreated Whites.
A linear mixed effects model and bivariate analyses were used to evaluate the phenotypic and genetic relations between serum resistin and both ACR and eGFR. All analyses were adjusted for sex, age, age squared, BMI, systolic blood pressure, smoking habits and physical exercise.
After adjustments, resistin levels were slightly positively associated with ACR (β±SE = 0.049±0.023, p = 0.035) and inversely related to eGFR (β±SE = −1.43±0.61, p = 0.018) levels. These associations remained significant when either eGFR or ACR were, reciprocally, added as covariates. A genetic correlation (ρg = −0.31±0.12; adjusted p = 0.013) was observed between resistin and eGFR (but not ACR) levels.
Serum resistin levels are independently associated with ACR and eGFR in untreated non-diabetic individuals. Serum resistin and eGFR share also some common genetic background. Our data strongly suggest that resistin plays a role in modulating kidney function.
PMCID: PMC3373540  PMID: 22701635
6.  ENPP1 Affects Insulin Action and Secretion: Evidences from In Vitro Studies 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19462.
The aim of this study was to deeper investigate the mechanisms through which ENPP1, a negative modulator of insulin receptor (IR) activation, plays a role on insulin signaling, insulin secretion and eventually glucose metabolism. ENPP1 cDNA (carrying either K121 or Q121 variant) was transfected in HepG2 liver-, L6 skeletal muscle- and INS1E beta-cells. Insulin-induced IR-autophosphorylation (HepG2, L6, INS1E), Akt-Ser473, ERK1/2-Thr202/Tyr204 and GSK3-beta Ser9 phosphorylation (HepG2, L6), PEPCK mRNA levels (HepG2) and 2-deoxy-D-glucose uptake (L6) was studied. GLUT 4 mRNA (L6), insulin secretion and caspase-3 activation (INS1E) were also investigated. Insulin-induced IR-autophosphorylation was decreased in HepG2-K, L6-K, INS1E-K (20%, 52% and 11% reduction vs. untransfected cells) and twice as much in HepG2-Q, L6-Q, INS1E-Q (44%, 92% and 30%). Similar data were obtained with Akt-Ser473, ERK1/2-Thr202/Tyr204 and GSK3-beta Ser9 in HepG2 and L6. Insulin-induced reduction of PEPCK mRNA was progressively lower in untransfected, HepG2-K and HepG2-Q cells (65%, 54%, 23%). Insulin-induced glucose uptake in untransfected L6 (60% increase over basal), was totally abolished in L6-K and L6-Q cells. GLUT 4 mRNA was slightly reduced in L6-K and twice as much in L6-Q (13% and 25% reduction vs. untransfected cells). Glucose-induced insulin secretion was 60% reduced in INS1E-K and almost abolished in INS1E-Q. Serum deficiency activated caspase-3 by two, three and four folds in untransfected INS1E, INS1E-K and INS1E-Q. Glyburide-induced insulin secretion was reduced by 50% in isolated human islets from homozygous QQ donors as compared to those from KK and KQ individuals. Our data clearly indicate that ENPP1, especially when the Q121 variant is operating, affects insulin signaling and glucose metabolism in skeletal muscle- and liver-cells and both function and survival of insulin secreting beta-cells, thus representing a strong pathogenic factor predisposing to insulin resistance, defective insulin secretion and glucose metabolism abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3088669  PMID: 21573217
7.  Circulating HMW adiponectin isoform is heritable and shares a common genetic background with insulin resistance in non diabetic White Caucasians from Italy: evidence from a family-based study 
Journal of internal medicine  2009;267(3):287-294.
Reduced circulating adiponectin levels contribute to the etiology of insulin-resistance. Adiponectin circulates in three different isoforms: high (HMW), medium (MMW), and low (LMW) molecular weight. The genetics of adiponectin isoforms is mostly unknown. Our aim was to investigate whether and to which extent circulating adiponectin isoforms are heritable and whether they share common genetic backgrounds with insulin resistance-related traits.
In a family based sample of 640 non diabetic White Caucasians from Italy, serum adiponectin isoforms concentrations were measured by ELISA. Three SNPs in the ADIPOQ gene previously reported to affect total adiponectin levels (rs17300539, rs1501299 and rs677395) were genotyped. The heritability of adiponectin isoform levels was assessed by variance component analysis. A linear mixed effects model was used to test association between SNPs and adiponectin isoforms. Bivariate analyses were conducted to study genetic correlations between adiponectin isoforms levels and other insulin resistance-related traits.
All isoforms were highly heritable (h2=0.60−0.80, p=1×10−13–1×10−23). SNPs rs17300539, rs1501299 and rs6773957 explained a significant proportion of HMW variance (2–9%, p=1×10−3–1×10−5). In a multiple-SNP model, only rs17300539 and rs1501299 remained associated with HMW adiponectin (p=3×10−4 and 2.0×10−2). Significant genetic correlations (p=1×10−2–1×10−5) were observed between HMW adiponectin and fasting insulin, HOMAIR, HDL-cholesterol and the metabolic syndrome score. Only rs1501299 partly accounted for these genetic correlations.
Circulating levels of adiponectin isoforms are highly heritable. The genetic control of HMW adiponectin is shared in part with insulin resistance-related traits and involves, but is not limited to the ADIPOQ locus.
PMCID: PMC2833228  PMID: 19761474
ADIPOQ gene; Adiponectin isoforms; insulin resistance

Results 1-8 (8)