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1.  Circulating adiponectin and cardiovascular mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: evidence of sexual dimorphism 
Cardiovascular Diabetology  2014;13(1):130.
The pathogenesis of cardiovascular (CV) mortality, whose rate is increased in type 2 diabetes, is poorly understood.
While high serum adiponectin is associated with increased CV mortality in the general population, no data are available in type 2 diabetes.
We here investigated whether this counterintuitive association was observable also in diabetic patients and whether it was sex-specific.
Three prospective cohorts were analyzed: 1) Gargano Heart Study (GHS; 359 patients, 58 events/1,934 person-years; py); 2) Health Professional Follow-up Study (HPFS; 833 men, 146 events/10,024 py); 3) Nurses’ Health Study (NHS; 902 women, 144 events/15,074 py).
In GHS serum adiponectin predicted CV mortality in men (hazard ratio, HR, and 95% CI per standard deviation, SD, increment = 1.54, 1.19-2.01), but not women (HR = 0.98, 0.48-2.01).
Circulating adiponectin predicted CV mortality in men from HPFS (HR = 1.44, 1.21-1.72), but not in women from NHS (HR = 1.08, 0.86-1.35), used as replication samples. In a pooled analysis, HRs were 1.47 (1.27-1.70) in 1,075 men and 1.07 (0.86-1.33) in 1,019 women (p for HRs heterogeneity across sexes = 0.018).
This is the first report showing that high circulating adiponectin predicts increased CV mortality in men, but not in women with type 2 diabetes. Further studies are necessary to unravel the mechanisms through which adiponectin influences CV mortality in a sex-specific manner.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12933-014-0130-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4172916  PMID: 25200659
Adipokines; Prospective studies; Paradoxical effect; Sex-linked genes
2.  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
3.  Association Between a Genetic Variant Related to Glutamic Acid Metabolism and Coronary Heart Disease in Type 2 Diabetes 
JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association  2013;310(8):10.1001/jama.2013.276305.
Diabetes is associated with an elevated risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Previous studies have suggested that the genetic factors predisposing to excess cardiovascular risk may be different in diabetic and non-diabetic participants.
To identify genetic determinants of CHD that are specific to diabetic patients.
We studied five independent sets of CHD cases and CHD-negative controls from the Nurses Health Study (NHS; enrolled in 1976 and followed through 2008), Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS; enrolled in 1986 and followed through 2008), Joslin Heart Study (enrolled in 2001-2008), Gargano Heart Study (enrolled in 2001-2008), and Catanzaro Study (enrolled in 2004-2010). Included were a total of 1,517 CHD cases and 2,671 CHD-negative controls, all with type 2 diabetes. Results in diabetic patients were compared with those in 737 non-diabetic CHD cases and 1,637 non-diabetic CHD-negative controls from the NHS and HPFS cohorts.
2,543,016 common genetic variants occurring throughout the genome.
CHD defined as fatal or non-fatal myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass grafting, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, or angiographic evidence of significant stenosis of the coronary arteries.
We identified a variant on chromosome 1q25 (rs10911021) consistently associated with CHD risk among diabetic participants with an odds ratio of 1.36 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.22-1.51, P=2×10−8). No association between this variant and CHD was detected among non-diabetic participants (OR=0.99, P=0.89), consistent with a significant gene-by-diabetes interaction on CHD risk (P=2×10−4). As compared to protective allele homozygotes, rs10911021 risk allele homozygotes were characterized by a 32% decrease in the expression of the neighboring glutamate-ammonia ligase (GLUL) gene in human endothelial cells (P=0.0048). They also showed a decreased ratio between plasma levels of γ-glutamyl cycle intermediates pyroglutamic and glutamic acid in two independent studies (P=0.029 and P=0.003, respectively).
A SNP was identified that was significantly associated with CHD among persons with diabetes but not in those without diabetes. This SNP was functionally related to glutamic acid metabolism, suggesting a mechanistic link.
PMCID: PMC3858847  PMID: 23982368
genetic; amino acids; coronary heart disease; diabetes
4.  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
5.  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
6.  Genome-wide association analysis identifies TYW3/CRYZ and NDST4 loci associated with circulating resistin levels 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(21):4774-4780.
Resistin is a polypeptide hormone that was reported to be associated with insulin resistance, inflammation and risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We conducted a genome-wide association (GWA) study on circulating resistin levels in individuals of European ancestry drawn from the two independent studies: the Nurses' Health Study (n = 1590) and the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study (n = 1658). Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) identified in the GWA analysis were replicated in an independent cohort of Europeans: the Gargano Family Study (n = 659). We confirmed the association with a previously known locus, the RETN gene (19p13.2), and identified two novel loci near the TYW3/CRYZ gene (1p31) and the NDST4 gene (4q25), associated with resistin levels at a genome-wide significant level, best represented by SNP rs3931020 (P = 6.37 × 10–12) and SNP rs13144478 (P = 6.19 × 10−18), respectively. Gene expression quantitative trait loci analyses showed a significant cis association between the SNP rs3931020 and CRYZ gene expression levels (P = 3.68 × 10−7). We also found that both of these two SNPs were significantly associated with resistin gene (RETN) mRNA levels in white blood cells from 68 subjects with type 2 diabetes (both P = 0.02). In addition, the resistin-rising allele of the TYW3/CRYZ SNP rs3931020, but not the NDST4 SNP rs13144478, showed a consistent association with increased coronary heart disease risk [odds ratio = 1.18 (95% CI, 1.03–1.34); P = 0.01]. Our results suggest that genetic variants in TYW3/CRYZ and NDST4 loci may be involved in the regulation of circulating resistin levels. More studies are needed to verify the associations of the SNP rs13144478 with NDST4 gene expression and resistin-related disease.
PMCID: PMC3471394  PMID: 22843503
7.  Genetic prediction of common diseases. Still no help for the clinical diabetologist! 
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several loci associated with many common, multifactorial diseases which have been recently used to market genetic testing directly to the consumers. We here addressed the clinical utility of such GWAS-derived genetic information in predicting type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and coronary artery disease (CAD) in diabetic patients. In addition, the development of new statistical approaches, novel technologies of genome sequencing and ethical, legal and social aspects related to genetic testing have been also addressed. Available data clearly show that, similarly to what reported for most common diseases, genetic testing offered today by commercial companies cannot be used as predicting tools for T2DM and CAD, both in the general and in the diabetic population. Further studies taking into account the complex interaction between genes as well as between genetic and non genetic factors, including age, obesity and glycemic control which seem to modify genetic effects on the risk of T2DM and CAD, might mitigate such negative conclusions. Also, addressing the role of relatively rare variants by next-generation sequencing may help identify novel and strong genetic markers with an important role in genetic prediction. Finally, statistical tools concentrated on reclassifying patients might be a useful application of genetic information for predicting many common diseases. By now, prediction of such diseases, including those of interest for the clinical diabetologist, have to be pursued by using traditional clinical markers which perform well and are not costly.
PMCID: PMC3729722  PMID: 22819342
Common; multifactorial disease; Genome-wide association studies; Genetic counseling; Direct-to consumer testing; Ethical; legal; social issues; Diseases prediction models; Next generation sequencing
8.  The role of HSP70 on ENPP1 expression and insulin-receptor activation 
Ectonucleotide pyrophosphatase phosphodiesterase 1 (ENPP1) inhibits insulin-receptor (IR) signaling and, when over-expressed, induces insulin resistance in vitro and in vivo. Understanding the regulation of ENPP1 expression may, thus, unravel new molecular mechanisms of insulin resistance. Recent data point to a pivotal role of the ENPP1 3’UTR, in modulating ENPP1 mRNA stability and expression. We sought to identify trans-acting proteins binding the ENPP1-3’UTR and to investigate their role on ENPP1 expression and on IR signaling. By RNA electrophoresis mobility shift analysis and tandem mass spectrometry, we demonstrated the binding of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) to ENPP1-3’UTR. Through this binding, HSP70 stabilizes ENPP1 mRNA and increases ENPP1 transcript and protein levels. This positive modulation of ENPP1 expression is paralleled by a reduced insulin-induced IR and IRS-1 phosphorylation. Taken together these data suggest that HSP70, by affecting ENPP1 expression, may be a novel mediator of altered insulin signaling.
PMCID: PMC3760425  PMID: 19083193
Inhibitors of insulin signaling; Insulin resistance; 3′untranslatedregions; Tyrosine-kinasereceptors
9.  The SH2B1 obesity locus is associated with myocardial infarction in diabetic patients and with NO synthase activity in endothelial cells 
Atherosclerosis  2011;219(2):667-672.
Obesity and cardiovascular disease recognize a common metabolic soil and may therefore share part of their genetic background. Genome-wide association studies have identified variability at the SH2B1 locus as a predictor of obesity. We investigated whether SNP rs4788102, which captures the entire SH2B1 variability, is associated with coronary artery disease (CAD) and/or myocardial infarction (MI) in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
Design and Setting
SNP rs4788102 was typed in 2,015 White subjects with T2DM from three CAD case-control studies [n=740 from the Gargano Hearth Study (GHS, Italy); n=818 from the Joslin Hearth Study (JHS, Boston); n=457 from the University of Catanzaro (CZ, Italy)].
SNP rs4788102 (G/A) was not associated with CAD (overall allelic OR=1.06, 95% CI=0.93-1.21; p=0.37). On the contrary, it was associated with MI in GHS (1.42, 1.12-1.81; p=0.004) and in the three samples analyzed together (1.21, 1.04-1.41; p=0.016). Insulin stimulated nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity in human vein endothelial cells from G/G (n=4, p=0.03) but not the G/A (n=5, p=0.83) genotype. Of the SNPs in perfect LD with rs4788102, one (rs7498665) affects amino acid polarity (Ala484Thr) and falls into a highly conserved protein segment of SH2B1 containing a class II SH3 domain binding site.
Variability at the SH2B1 obesity locus is associated with MI in diabetic patients and with reduced insulin-stimulated NOS activity in human endothelial cells. Further studies are needed to replicate this association and dissect the biology underlying this finding.
PMCID: PMC3728428  PMID: 21907990
10.  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
11.  Serum Resistin, Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e64729.
High serum resistin has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease in the general population, Only sparse and conflicting results, limited to Asian individuals, have been reported, so far, in type 2 diabetes. We studied the role of serum resistin on coronary artery disease, major cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality in type 2 diabetes.
We tested the association of circulating resistin concentrations with coronary artery disease, major cardiovascular events (cardiovascular death, non-fatal myocardial infarction and non-fatal stroke) and all-cause mortality in 2,313 diabetic patients of European ancestry from two cross-sectional and two prospective studies. In addition, the expression of resistin gene (RETN) was measured in blood cells of 68 diabetic patients and correlated with their serum resistin levels.
In a model comprising age, sex, smoking habits, BMI, HbA1c, and insulin, antihypertensive and antidyslipidemic therapies, serum resistin was associated with coronary artery disease in both cross-sectional studies: OR (95%CI) per SD increment = 1.35 (1.10–1.64) and 1.99 (1.55–2.55). Additionally, serum resistin predicted incident major cardiovascular events (HR per SD increment = 1.31; 1.10–1.56) and all-cause mortality (HR per SD increment = 1.16; 1.06–1.26). Adjusting also for fibrinogen levels affected the association with coronary artery disease and incident cardiovascular events, but not that with all cause-mortality. Finally, serum resistin was positively correlated with RETN mRNA expression (rho = 0.343).
This is the first study showing that high serum resistin (a likely consequence, at least partly, of increased RETN expression) is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in diabetic patients of European ancestry.
PMCID: PMC3670852  PMID: 23755138
12.  Novel Locus FER Is Associated With Serum HMW Adiponectin Levels 
Diabetes  2011;60(8):2197-2201.
High molecular weight (HMW) adiponectin is a predominant isoform of circulating adiponectin and has been related to type 2 diabetes. Previous linkage studies suggest that different genetic components might be involved in determining HMW and total adiponectin levels.
We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of serum HMW adiponectin levels in individuals of European ancestry drawn from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) (N = 1,591). The single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) identified in the GWAS analysis were replicated in an independent cohort of Europeans (N = 626). We examined the associations of the identified variations with diabetes risk and metabolic syndrome.
We identified a novel locus near the FER gene (5q21) at a genome-wide significance level, best represented by SNP rs10447248 (P = 4.69 × 10−8). We also confirmed that variations near the adiponectin-encoding ADIPOQ locus (3q27) were related to serum HMW adiponectin levels. In addition, we found that FER SNP rs10447248 was related to HDL cholesterol levels (P = 0.009); ADIPOQ variation was associated with fasting glucose (P = 0.04), HDL cholesterol (P = 0.04), and a metabolic syndrome score (P = 0.002).
Our results suggest that different loci may be involved in regulation of circulating HMW adiponectin levels and provide novel insight into the mechanisms that affect HMW adiponectin homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3142072  PMID: 21700879
13.  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
14.  The Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin-Resistance Locus Near IRS1 Is A Determinant of HDL Cholesterol and Triglycerides Levels Among Diabetic Subjects 
Atherosclerosis  2011;216(1):157-160.
SNP rs2943641 near the insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS1) gene has been found to be associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and insulin-resistance in genome-wide association studies. We investigated whether this SNP is associated with cardiovascular risk factors and coronary artery disease (CAD) among diabetic individuals.
SNP rs2943641 was typed in 2,133 White T2D subjects and tested for association with BMI, serum HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, hypertension history, and CAD risk.
HDL cholesterol decreased by 1 mg/dl (p=0.0045) and serum triglycerides increased by 6 mg/dl (p=0.018) for each copy of the insulin-resistance allele. Despite these effects, no association was found with increased CAD risk (OR=1.00, 95% CI 0.88–1.13).
The insulin-resistance and T2D locus near the IRS1 gene is a determinant of lower HDL cholesterol among T2D subjects. However, this effect is small and does not translate into a detectable increase in CAD risk in this population.
PMCID: PMC3089704  PMID: 21353221
coronary artery disease; polymorphisms; insulin-resistance; type 2 diabetes
15.  The ENPP1 Q121 Variant Predicts Major Cardiovascular Events in High-Risk Individuals 
Diabetes  2011;60(3):1000-1007.
Insulin resistance (IR) and cardiovascular disease may share a common genetic background. We investigated the role of IR-associated ENPP1 K121Q polymorphism (rs1044498) on cardiovascular disease in high-risk individuals.
A prospective study (average follow-up, 37 months) was conducted for major cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction [MI], stroke, cardiovascular death) from the Gargano Heart Study (GHS; n = 330 with type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease), the Tor Vergata Atherosclerosis Study (TVAS; n = 141 who had MI), and the Cardiovascular Risk Extended Evaluation in Dialysis (CREED) database (n = 266 with end-stage renal disease). Age at MI was investigated in cross-sectional studies of 339 type 2 diabetic patients (n = 169 from Italy, n = 170 from the U.S.).
Incidence of cardiovascular events per 100 person--years was 4.2 in GHS, 10.8 in TVAS, and 11.7 in CREED. Hazard ratios (HRs) for KQ+QQ versus individuals carrying the K121/K121 genotype (KK) individuals were 1.47 (95% CI 0.80–2.70) in GHS, 2.31 (95% CI 1.22–4.34) in TVAS, and 1.36 (95% CI 0.88–2.10) in CREED, and 1.56 (95% CI 1.15–2.12) in the three cohorts combined. In the 395 diabetic patients, the Q121 variant predicted cardiovascular events among obese but not among nonobese individuals (HR 5.94 vs. 0.62, P = 0.003 for interaction). A similar synergism was observed in cross-sectional studies, with age at MI being 3 years younger in Q121 carriers than in KK homozygotes among obese but not among nonobese patients (P = 0.035 for interaction).
The ENPP1 K121Q polymorphism is an independent predictor of major cardiovascular events in high-risk individuals. In type 2 diabetes, this effect is exacerbated by obesity. Future larger studies are needed to confirm our finding.
PMCID: PMC3046818  PMID: 21282363
16.  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
17.  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
18.  Impact of the PPAR-γ2 Pro12Ala Polymorphism and ACE Inhibitor Therapy on New-Onset Microalbuminuria in Type 2 Diabetes: Evidence From BENEDICT 
Diabetes  2009;58(12):2920-2929.
Cross-sectional studies found less microalbuminuria in type 2 diabetic patients with the Ala12 allele of the peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-γ2 (PPAR-γ2) Pro12Ala polymorphism. We prospectively evaluated the association between Pro12Ala polymorphism (rs1801282) and new-onset microalbuminuria.
Pro12Ala polymorphism was genotyped by TaqMan-based assay in genomic DNA of 1,119 consenting patients from BErgamo NEphrologic DIabetic Complications Trial (BENEDICT)—a prospective, randomized trial evaluating ACE inhibition effect on new-onset microalbuminuria (albuminuria 20–200 μg/min in at least two of three consecutive overnight urine collections in two consecutive visits) in hypertensive type 2 diabetes with albuminuria <20 μg/min at inclusion.
Baseline characteristics of Ala (Ala/Ala or Ala/Pro) carriers and Pro/Pro homozygotes were similar, with a nonsignificant trend to lower albuminuria (P = 0.1107) in the 177 Ala carriers. Over a median (interquartile range) of 44.0 (17.1–51.9) months, 7 (4%) Ala carriers and 86 (9.1%) Pro/Pro homozygotes developed microalbuminuria (hazard ratio [HR] 0.45 [95% CI 0.21–0.97]; P = 0.042). Final albuminuria was significantly lower in Ala carriers than Pro/Pro homozygotes (7.3 ± 9.1 vs. 10.5 ± 24.9 μg/min, respectively), even after adjustment for baseline albuminuria (P = 0.048). Baseline and follow-up blood pressure and metabolic control were similar in both groups. Incidence of microalbuminuria was significantly decreased by ACE versus non-ACE inhibitor therapy in Pro/Pro homozygotes (6.3 vs. 11.9%, respectively, HR 0.46 [0.29–0.72]; P < 0.001).
In type 2 diabetes, the Ala allele protects from worsening albuminuria and new-onset microalbuminuria, and ACE inhibition blunts the excess risk of microalbuminuria associated with the Pro/Pro genotype. Evaluating Pro12Ala polymorphism may help identifying patients at risk who may benefit the most from early renoprotective therapy.
PMCID: PMC2780880  PMID: 19720797
20.  The Q121 Variant of ENPP1 Gene is Associated with Decreased Kidney Function Among Patients With Type 2 Diabetes 
Insulin resistance plays a role in diabetic kidney complications. The ectonucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase (ENPP1) (rs1044498) K121Q polymorphism has been associated with insulin resistance and related vascular complications among patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D), in many although not all studies. This study investigated whether the ENPP1 Q121 variant modulates the risk of reduced GFR in T2D.
Study design
Cross-sectional study.
Setting & Participants
Two Diabetes Units from Italy (Gargano e Padua) and one from the US (Boston) recruited a total of 1392 patients with T2D.
The ENPP1 Q121 variant.
Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) from serum creatinine, urinary albumin excretion, blood pressure, HbA1c, Triglycerides, Total cholesterol, HDL-Cholesterol
Reduced GFR levels (i.e. eGFR <60 ml/min/1.73m2).
In the Gargano and Boston populations, according to dominant model of inheritance, Q121 carriers (i.e. individual with either KQ or QQ genotype) had an increased risk of reduced GFR: ORs=1.69 (95%CI 1.1–2.6) and 1.50 (95%CI 1.0–2.2), respectively. In the Padua set the association was in the same direction but didn’t reach a formal statistical significance (OR=1.77, 95%CI 0.7–4.5). When the three studies were pooled, Q121 carriers showed and increased risk of reduced GFR (OR=1.58, 95%CI 1.2–2.1, p=0.002). Also pooled mean differences of absolute GFR values were different across genotype groups with Q121 carriers showing lower GFR, as compared to KK individuals (p=0.04).
p values not approaching a genome-wide level of significance.
Our data suggest that patients with T2D carrying the ENPP1 Q121 variant are at increased risk of reduced GFR.
PMCID: PMC2939986  PMID: 18950909
gene polymorphism; insulin resistance; vascular diabetic complications; PC-1
21.  Poor Glycemic Control Is an Independent Risk Factor for Low HDL Cholesterol in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2009;32(8):1550-1552.
To determine whether the association observed between poor glycemic control and low HDL cholesterol in type 2 diabetes is dependent on obesity and/or hypertriglyceridemia.
We performed a cross-sectional study of 1,819 patients with type 2 diabetes and triglycerides <400 mg/dl enrolled at three diabetes centers in Italy. The risk for low HDL cholesterol was analyzed as a function of A1C levels. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated after adjustment for confounding factors.
A 1% increase in A1C significantly increased the risk for low HDL cholesterol (OR 1.17 [95% CI 1.1–1.2], P = 0.00072); no changes were observed when age, sex, smoking, and lipid-lowering therapy were included in the model (1.17 [1.1–1.2], P = 0.00044). The association remained strong after adjustments for obesity and hypertriglyceridemia in multivariate analysis (1.12 [1.05–1.18], P = 0.00017).
Poor glycemic control appears to be an independent risk factor for low HDL cholesterol in type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2713640  PMID: 19487641
22.  Role of the ENPP1 K121Q Polymorphism in Glucose Homeostasis 
Diabetes  2008;57(12):3360-3364.
OBJECTIVE— To study the role of the ENPP1 Q121 variant on glucose homeostasis in whites from Italy.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS— We conducted case-control studies in 764 adults (from two independent samples of 289 nonobese and 485 obese individuals) and 240 overweight/obese children undergoing oral glucose tolerance testing (OGTT). Early-phase insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity (the insulinogenic index and the insulin sensitivity index) and their interplay (the disposition index) were calculated.
RESULTS— In adult subjects, glucose profiles during OGTT were significantly (P = 2 × 10−2) different across K121Q genotype groups and higher in QQ than KK individuals (P = 5 × 10−2). The insulinogenic index was significantly reduced in QQ (18.5 ± 3.4) compared with both KK (31.6 ± 1.0; P = 2.2 × 10−7) and KQ (30.5 ± 1.5; P = 3.2 × 10−6) individuals. KQ individuals also showed a reduced insulin sensitivity index compared with KK subjects (P = 3.6 × 10−2). The disposition index was lower in QQ carriers than in KQ and KK individuals (P = 8 × 10−3 and 4 × 10−4, respectively) and lower in KQ than in KK individuals (P = 3 × 10−2). Data obtained in overweight/obese children were very similar to those observed in adults, with QQ individuals showing (compared with KQ and KK subjects) a reduced insulinogenic index (P = 7 × 10−3 and 2 × 10−2, respectively) and disposition index (P = 2 × 10−2 and 7 × 10−3, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS— Homozygous carriers of the ENPP1 Q121 variant are characterized by an altered glucose homeostasis. Reduced early-phase insulin secretion and inefficient interplay between insulin secretion and sensitivity, which occur at early ages, are major determinants of this defect.
PMCID: PMC2584144  PMID: 18776139

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