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1.  Pancreatic β-Cell Dysfunction and Risk of New-Onset Diabetes After Kidney Transplantation 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(7):1926-1932.
Chronic exposure to calcineurin inhibitors and corticosteroids poses renal transplant recipients (RTR) at high risk for development of new-onset diabetes after transplantation (NODAT). Pancreatic β-cell dysfunction may be crucial to the pathophysiology of NODAT and specific markers for β-cell dysfunction may have additive value for predicting NODAT in this population. Therefore, we prospectively investigated whether proinsulin, as a marker of pancreatic β-cell dysfunction, is associated with future development of NODAT and improves prediction of it.
All RTR between 2001 and 2003 with a functioning graft for ≥1 year were considered eligible for inclusion, except for subjects with diabetes at baseline who were excluded. We recorded incidence of NODAT until April 2012.
A total of 487 RTR (age 50 ± 12 years, 55% men) participated at a median time of 6.0 (interquartile range [IQR], 2.6–11.5) years after transplantation. Median fasting proinsulin levels were 16.6 (IQR, 11.0–24.2) pmol/L. During median follow-up for 10.1 (IQR, 9.1–10.4) years, 42 (35%) RTR had development of NODAT in the highest quartile of the distribution of proinsulin versus 34 (9%) in the lowest three quartiles (P < 0.001). In Cox regression analyses, proinsulin (hazard ratio, 2.29; 95% CI, 1.85–2.83; P < 0.001) was strongly associated with NODAT development. This was independent of age, sex, calcineurine inhibitors, prednisolone use, components of the metabolic syndrome, or homeostasis model assessment.
In conclusion, fasting proinsulin is strongly associated with NODAT development in RTR. Our results highlight the role of β-cell dysfunction in the pathophysiology of NODAT and indicate the potential value of proinsulin for identification of RTR at increased risk for NODAT.
PMCID: PMC3687295  PMID: 23378624
2.  Creatinine Excretion Rate and Mortality in Type 2 Diabetes and Nephropathy 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(6):1489-1494.
The creatinine excretion rate (CER) is inversely associated with mortality in the general and renal transplant population. The CER is a marker for muscle mass. It is unknown whether the CER is associated with outcome in diabetes. We therefore investigated whether the CER is a determinant of all-cause mortality in diabetic patients.
We used data from the combined Reduction of Endpoints in Non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus with the Angiotensin II Antagonist Losartan (RENAAL) and Irbesartan Diabetic Nephropathy Trial (IDNT) studies. A total of 1,872 patients (58% of the overall population) with type 2 diabetes and nephropathy with valid 24-h urinary creatinine excretion data were included. The primary end point of the analyses was all-cause mortality.
Mean age was 60 ± 8 years and median CER was 1,407 (total range 400–3,406) mg/day. Body surface area, hemoglobin, black race, and albuminuria were positive independent determinants of the CER, whereas female sex and age were inverse independent determinants of the CER. During a median follow-up of 36 (29–45) months, 300 patients died. In a Kaplan-Meier analysis of sex-stratified tertiles of the CER, risk for all-cause mortality increased with decreasing CER (P < 0.001). In a multivariable Cox regression analysis, lower CER (as a continuous variable) was independently associated with increased risk for all-cause mortality (hazard ratio 0.39 [95% CI 0.29–0.52], P < 0.001). Adjustment for potential collection errors did not materially change these associations.
Lower CER was strongly associated with increased all-cause mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes and nephropathy. As the CER can be considered a proxy for muscle mass, this puts renewed emphasis on physical condition and exercise in this population.
PMCID: PMC3661815  PMID: 23300289
3.  The Midregional Fragment of Pro-A–Type Natriuretic Peptide, Blood Pressure, and Mortality in a Prospective Cohort Study of Patients With Type 2 Diabetes (ZODIAC-25) 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(5):1347-1352.
Evidence that midregional fragment of pro-A–type natriuretic peptide (MR-proANP) is a marker of mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes is limited. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the capabilities of MR-proANP in predicting mortality. We also investigated whether MR-proANP influences the relationship between blood pressure and mortality in old age.
In 1998, 1,143 primary care patients with type 2 diabetes participated in the ZODIAC study. Because blood was drawn for 867 patients (76%) and confounders were missing for 19 patients, the final study sample comprised 848 patients. After a follow-up time of 10 years, we used Cox proportional hazard models to evaluate the relationship between MR-proANP and (cardiovascular) mortality. Harrell C statistic was used to compare models with and without MR-proANP. The regression analyses were repeated without MR-proANP for patients aged older than 75 years.
Median MR-proANP in the total study sample was 75 pmol/L (interquartile range, 48–124 pmol/L). During follow-up, 354 (42%) out of 848 patients had died, of whom 152 (43%) deaths were attributable to cardiovascular factors. MR-proANP was independently associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, irrespective of age. During old age, there was a significant inverse relationship between blood pressure and mortality. This relationship did not change after adjustment for MR-proANP.
MR-proANP is independently associated with mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes. MR-proANP did not influence the inverse relationship between blood pressure and mortality in elderly patients.
PMCID: PMC3631859  PMID: 23230100
4.  The Relationship of the Anti-Oxidant Bilirubin with Free Thyroxine Is Modified by Insulin Resistance in Euthyroid Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90886.
The strong anti-oxidative properties of bilirubin largely explain its cardioprotective effects. Insulin resistance is featured by low circulating bilirubin. Thyroid hormone affects both bilirubin generation and its biliary transport, but it is unknown whether circulating bilirubin is associated with thyroid function in euthyroid subjects. Aim is to determine relationships of bilirubin with TSH, free T4 and free T3 in euthyroid subjects without type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and to assess whether such a relationship would be modified by the degree of insulin resistance.
Total bilirubin, TSH, free T4, free T3, glucose, insulin, lipids and transaminases were measured in 1854 fasting euthyroid subjects without T2DM, recruited from the general population (PREVEND cohort). Insulin resistance was assessed by homeostasis model assessment.
Bilirubin was positively related to free T4 (β = 0.116, P<0.001) and free T3 (β = 0.078, P = 0.001), but bilirubin was unrelated to TSH. The relationship of bilirubin with free T4 was modified by insulin resistance with a larger effect in more insulin resistant individuals (adjusted for age and sex: β = 0.043, P = 0.056 for interaction; additionally adjusted for smoking, alcohol intake, transaminases and total cholesterol (β = 0.044, P = 0.044 for interaction). The association of bilirubin with free T4 was also modified by high density lipoprotein cholesterol (age- and sex-adjusted: β = 0.040, P = 0.072).
Low bilirubin relates to low free T4 in euthyroid non-diabetic subjects. Low normal free T4 may particularly confer low bilirubin in more insulin resistant individuals.
PMCID: PMC3940953  PMID: 24595410
5.  Hypertension and Low HDL-Cholesterol were Associated with Reduced Kidney Function Across the Age Spectrum: A Collaborative Study 
Annals of epidemiology  2013;23(3):106-111.
To determine if the associations among established risk factors and reduced kidney function vary by age.
We pooled cross-sectional data from 14,788 non-diabetics aged 40–100 years in 4 studies: Cardiovascular Health Study, Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study, Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, and Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-Stage Disease cohort.
Hypertension and low HDL-cholesterol were associated with reduced cystatin C-based estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) across the age spectrum. In adjusted analyses, hypertension was associated with a 2.3 (95% CI 0.1, 4.4), 5.1 (4.1, 6.1), and 6.9 (3.0, 10.4) mL/min/1.73 m2 lower eGFR in participants 40–59, 60–79, and 80+ years, respectively (p-value for interaction <0.001). The association of low HDL-cholesterol with reduced kidney function was also greater in the older age groups: 4.9 (3.5, 6.3), 7.1 (CI 6.0, 8.3), 8.9 (CI 5.4, 11.9) mL/min/1.73 m2 (p-value for interaction <0.001). Smoking and obesity were associated with reduced kidney function in participants under 80 years. All estimates of the potential population impact of the risk factors were modest.
Hypertension, obesity, smoking, and low HDL-cholesterol are modestly associated with reduced kidney function in non-diabetics. The associations of hypertension and HDL-cholesterol with reduced kidney function appear stronger in older adults.
PMCID: PMC3570601  PMID: 23313266
Chronic kidney insufficiency; aged; hypertension; cholesterol; obesity; smoking
6.  Growth-Differentiation Factor 15 Predicts Worsening of Albuminuria in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(11):2340-2346.
Development of micro- or macroalbuminuria is associated with increased risk of cardiorenal complications, particularly in diabetes. For prevention of transition to micro- or macroalbuminuria, more accurate prediction markers on top of classical risk markers are needed. We studied a promising new marker, growth-differentiation factor (GDF)-15, to predict transition to increasing stage of albuminuria in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). In addition, we looked at the GDF-15 potential in nondiabetic subjects with hypertension (HT).
Case and control subjects were selected from the PREVEND cohort, a large (n = 8,592), prospective general population study on the natural course of albuminuria, with >10 years of follow-up and repeated albuminuria measurements. We found 24 T2DM and 50 HT case subjects transitioning from normo- to macroalbuminuria and 9 T2DM and 25 HT case subjects transitioning from micro- to macroalbuminuria (average follow-up 2.8 years). Control subjects with stable albuminuria were pair matched for age, sex, albuminuria status, and diabetes duration. GDF-15 was measured in samples prior to albuminuria transition.
Prior to transition, GDF-15 was significantly higher in case subjects with T2DM than in control subjects (median [IQR] 1,288 pg/mL [885–1,546] vs. 948 pg/mL [660–1,016], P < 0.001). The odds ratio for transition in albuminuria increased significantly per SD of GDF-15 (2.9 [95% CI 1.1–7.5], P = 0.03). GDF-15 also improved prediction of albuminuria transition, with significant increases in C statistic (from 0.87 to 0.92, P = 0.03) and integrated discrimination improvement (0.148, P = 0.001). In HT, GDF-15 was also independently associated with transition in albuminuria stage (2.0 [1.1–3.5], P = 0.02) and improved prediction significantly.
We identified GDF-15 as a clinically valuable marker for predicting transition in albuminuria stage in T2DM beyond conventional risk markers. These findings were confirmed in nondiabetic HT subjects.
PMCID: PMC3476892  PMID: 22815297
7.  Plasma COOH-Terminal Proendothelin-1 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(11):2354-2358.
The aim of this study was to investigate the association between plasma COOH-terminal proendothelin-1 (CT-proET-1) and fatal cardiovascular events, all-cause mortality, and new-onset albuminuria in patients with type 2 diabetes.
A total of 1,225 patients with type 2 diabetes participated in this prospective observational study of two combined cohorts. Three clinical end points were studied: fatal cardiovascular events, all-cause mortality, and new-onset albuminuria. After a median follow-up of 3 or 10 years, Cox proportional hazard modeling was used to investigate the association between CT-proET-1 and the end points. Harrell C statistic, the Groennesby and Borgan test, the integrated discrimination improvement (IDI), and the net reclassification improvement (NRI) were used to evaluate whether CT-proET-1 is of additional value compared with classic cardiovascular and renal risk factors.
During follow-up, 364 (30%) patients died, 150 (42%) of whom died of cardiovascular disease; 182 (26.7%) of 688 patients with normoalbuminuria at baseline developed albuminuria. CT-proET-1 was associated with fatal cardiovascular events, all-cause mortality, and new-onset albuminuria with hazard ratios of 1.59 (95% CI 1.15–2.20), 1.41 (95% CI 1.14–1.74), and 1.48 (95% CI 1.10–2.01), respectively. Addition of CT-proET-1 to a model containing traditional risk factors leads only to improved prediction of fatal cardiovascular events. The IDI appeared significant for fatal cardiovascular events (0.82 [0.1–1.54]) and all-cause mortality (0.4 [0.05–0.92]), but not for new-onset albuminuria.
CT-proET-1 has additional value for the prediction of fatal cardiovascular events and new-onset albuminuria in patients with type 2 diabetes, compared with conventional risk factors, but not for all-cause mortality.
PMCID: PMC3476931  PMID: 22837372
8.  Association between Sodium Intake and Change in Uric Acid, Urine Albumin Excretion, and the Risk of Developing Hypertension 
Circulation  2012;125(25):3108-3116.
In non-hypertensive individuals, a high sodium diet has little acute effect on blood pressure but, for unclear reasons, is associated with hypertension if consumed chronically. We hypothesized that a chronically high sodium intake would be associated with increases in biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction, specifically serum uric acid (SUA) and urine albumin excretion (UAE), and that high sodium intake would be associated with incident hypertension among those with higher SUA and UAE.
Methods and Results
We prospectively analyzed the associations between sodium intake and the change in SUA (N=4062) and UAE (N=4146) among participants of the PREVEND study who were not taking antihypertensive medications. We also examined the association of sodium intake with the incidence of hypertension (N=5556) among non-hypertensive participants. After adjusting for confounders, each 1 gram higher sodium intake was associated with a 1.2µmol/L increase in SUA (p=0.01) and a 4.6mg/d increase in UAE (p<0.001). The relation between sodium intake and incident hypertension varied according to SUA and UAE. For each 1 gram higher sodium intake, the adjusted hazard ratio for developing hypertension was 0.98 (0.89–1.08) among those in the lowest tertile of SUA, and 1.09 (1.02–1.16) among those in the highest. Corresponding hazard ratios were 0.99 (0.93–1.06) among participants whose UAE was <10mg/d, and 1.18 (1.07–1.29) among those whose UAE was >15mg/d.
Over time, higher sodium intake is associated with increases in SUA and UAE. Among individuals with higher SUA and urine UAE, a higher sodium intake is an independent risk factor for developing hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3804910  PMID: 22711274
diet; epidemiology; hypertension; risk factors; sodium
9.  Predictors of Progression in Albuminuria in the General Population: Results from the PREVEND Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e61119.
Urinary albumin excretion is known to be independently associated with progression of renal and cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to identify predictors for progression in albuminuria in the general population.
Data were used of the first 4 screening rounds of a community-based prospective cohort study (PREVEND). Included were 5,825 subjects that at baseline had no known renal disease or macroalbuminuria. Subjects were defined as having progressive albuminuria when they belonged to the quintile of subjects with highest absolute increase in urinary albumin excretion per year and a urinary albumin excretion during the last screening in which they participated of ≥150 mg/24 h. Change in urinary albumin excretion per year was calculated as last available urinary albumin excretion minus baseline UAE divided by follow-up time.
During 9.3 years follow-up 132 subjects had progressive albuminuria. These subjects were significantly older, more often of male gender and had a worse cardiovascular risk profile. In a multivariable model, testing baseline values, significant predictors of progressive albuminuria were male gender (OR 2.23; p<0.001), age (OR 1.03; p<0.001), BMI (OR 1.06; p = 0.02) and baseline albuminuria (OR 5.71; p<0.001). Based on these findings a risk score was made to estimate a subject's risk for progressive albuminuria.
A high baseline albuminuria is by far the most important predictor of progressive albuminuria. Thus, screening for baseline albuminuria will be more important than screening for cardiovascular risk factors in order to identify subjects at risk for progressive albuminuria.
PMCID: PMC3664562  PMID: 23723966
10.  One Risk Assessment Tool for Cardiovascular Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and Chronic Kidney Disease 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(4):741-748.
Individuals at high risk for chronic cardiometabolic disease (cardiovascular disease [CVD], type 2 diabetes, and chronic kidney disease [CKD]) share many risk factors and would benefit from early intervention. We developed a nonlaboratory-based risk-assessment tool for identification of people at high cardiometabolic disease risk.
Data of three population-based cohorts from different regions of the Netherlands were merged. Participants were 2,840 men and 3,940 women, white, aged 28–85 years, free from CVD, type 2 diabetes, and CKD diagnosis at baseline. The outcome was developing cardiometabolic disease during 7 years follow-up.
Age, BMI, waist circumference, antihypertensive treatment, smoking, family history of myocardial infarction or stroke, and family history of diabetes were significant predictors, whereas former smoking, history of gestational diabetes, and use of lipid-lowering medication were not. The models showed acceptable calibration (Hosmer and Lemeshow statistics, P > 0.05) and discrimination (area under the receiver operating characteristic [ROC] curve 0.82 [95% CI 0.81–0.83] for women and 0.80 [0.78–0.82] for men). Discrimination of individual outcomes was lowest for diabetes (area under the ROC curve 0.70 for men and 0.73 for women) and highest for CVD mortality (0.83 for men and 0.85 for women).
We demonstrate that a single risk stratification tool can identify people at high risk for future CVD, type 2 diabetes, and/or CKD. The present risk-assessment tool can be used for referring the highest risk individuals to health care for further (multivariable) risk assessment and may as such serve as an important part of prevention programs targeting chronic cardiometabolic disease.
PMCID: PMC3308277  PMID: 22338109
11.  Liver Function Tests and Risk Prediction of Incident Type 2 Diabetes: Evaluation in Two Independent Cohorts 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51496.
Liver function tests might predict the risk of type 2 diabetes. An independent study evaluating utility of these markers compared with an existing prediction model is yet lacking.
Methods and Findings
We performed a case-cohort study, including random subcohort (6.5%) from 38,379 participants with 924 incident diabetes cases (the Dutch contribution to the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition, EPIC-NL, the Netherlands), and another population-based cohort study including 7,952 participants with 503 incident cases (the Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-stage Disease, PREVEND, Groningen, the Netherlands). We examined predictive value of combination of the Liver function tests (gamma-glutamyltransferase, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase and albumin) above validated models for 7.5-year risk of diabetes (the Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg, the KORA study). Basic model includes age, sex, BMI, smoking, hypertension and parental diabetes. Clinical models additionally include glucose and uric acid (model1) and HbA1c (model2). In both studies, addition of Liver function tests to the basic model improved the prediction (C-statistic by∼0.020; NRI by∼9.0%; P<0.001). In the EPIC-NL case-cohort study, addition to clinical model1 resulted in statistically significant improvement in the overall population (C-statistic = +0.009; P<0.001; NRI = 8.8%; P<0.001), while addition to clinical model 2 yielded marginal improvement limited to men (C-statistic = +0.007; P = 0.06; NRI = 3.3%; P = 0.04). In the PREVEND cohort study, addition to clinical model 1 resulted in significant improvement in the overall population (C-statistic change = 0.008; P = 0.003; NRI = 3.6%; P = 0.03), with largest improvement in men (C-statistic change = 0.013; P = 0.01; NRI = 5.4%; P = 0.04). In PREVEND, improvement compared to clinical model 2 could not be tested because of lack of HbA1c data.
Liver function tests modestly improve prediction for medium-term risk of incident diabetes above basic and extended clinical prediction models, only if no HbA1c is incorporated. If data on HbA1c are available, Liver function tests have little incremental predictive value, although a small benefit may be present in men.
PMCID: PMC3524238  PMID: 23284703
12.  A Genome-Wide Association Study of Circulating Galectin-3 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47385.
Galectin-3 is a lectin involved in fibrosis, inflammation and proliferation. Increased circulating levels of galectin-3 have been associated with various diseases, including cancer, immunological disorders, and cardiovascular disease. To enhance our knowledge on galectin-3 biology we performed the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) using the Illumina HumanCytoSNP-12 array imputed with the HapMap 2 CEU panel on plasma galectin-3 levels in 3,776 subjects and follow-up genotyping in an additional 3,516 subjects. We identified 2 genome wide significant loci associated with plasma galectin-3 levels. One locus harbours the LGALS3 gene (rs2274273; P = 2.35×10−188) and the other locus the ABO gene (rs644234; P = 3.65×10−47). The variance explained by the LGALS3 locus was 25.6% and by the ABO locus 3.8% and jointly they explained 29.2%. Rs2274273 lies in high linkage disequilibrium with two non-synonymous SNPs (rs4644; r2 = 1.0, and rs4652; r2 = 0.91) and wet lab follow-up genotyping revealed that both are strongly associated with galectin-3 levels (rs4644; P = 4.97×10−465 and rs4652 P = 1.50×10−421) and were also associated with LGALS3 gene-expression. The origins of our associations should be further validated by means of functional experiments.
PMCID: PMC3467202  PMID: 23056639
13.  Initial Angiotensin Receptor Blockade–Induced Decrease in Albuminuria Is Associated With Long-Term Renal Outcome in Type 2 Diabetic Patients With Microalbuminuria 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(9):2078-2083.
We aimed to investigate the individual impact of initial responses in urinary albumin excretion (UAE) and systolic blood pressure (SBP) to angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) treatment on long-term renal outcome in patients with type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria.
In a post hoc analysis of the Irbesartan in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes and Microalbuminuria (IRMA)-2 trial we first assessed the individual variability in UAE and SBP response (0–6 months) in 531 subjects. Subsequently, we analyzed the individual effect of both response parameters on renal outcome defined as change in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) during 2 years of follow-up.
The median reductions in UAE and SBP in the population were −18% and −11 mmHg, respectively. In irbesartan-treated patients, 85 (24.4%) had a robust (>median) reduction in UAE but not in SBP (discordant SBP response) and 67 (19.3%) had a robust (>median) reduction in SBP but not in UAE (discordant UAE response). The degree of reduction in UAE was independently associated with the rate of eGFR decline (P = 0.0037). SBP showed a similar trend (P = 0.087). The relation between a larger UAE reduction and a slower rate of renal function decline was present in both cohorts with a SBP change above and below the median.
Within an individual, UAE response to ARB therapy may be discordant from SBP response. The initial change in UAE was independently associated with eGFR slope; the more UAE reduction the less eGFR decline, irrespective of the SBP change. These results suggest that in microalbuminuric patients with type 2 diabetes, UAE should be monitored after initiation of therapy and a separate target for renoprotective therapy.
PMCID: PMC3161288  PMID: 21788629
14.  Glomerular and Tubular Damage Markers Are Elevated in Patients With Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(4):975-981.
We investigated in a cross-sectional study the levels of serum and urinary damage markers in diabetic patients (n = 94) and nondiabetic control subjects (n = 45) to study the association of glomerular (IgG), proximal tubular (kidney injury molecule [KIM]-1, N-acetyl-β-d-glucosaminidase [NAG], neutrophil gelatinase–associated lipocalin [NGAL], and cystatin C), and distal tubular (heart fatty acid–binding protein [H-FABP]) damage markers with kidney disease severity, as assessed by albuminuria and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).
Damage markers were measured in triplicate in fresh morning urine samples and in plasma.
Of the diabetic patients, 41 were normoalbuminuric, 41 were microalbuminuric, and 12 were macroalbuminuric. Urinary NAG (ninefold), NGAL (1.5-fold), and H-FABP (3.5-fold) were significantly elevated in normoalbuminuric diabetic patients compared with nondiabetic control subjects. Urinary concentrations of all markers increased per albuminuria stratum, except KIM-1. All urinary damage markers, except KIM-1, were significantly associated with albuminuria, independent of age, sex, and plasma concentrations of the corresponding biomarker (standard βs between 0.35 and 0.87; all P ≤ 0.001). All urinary damage markers, except KIM-1, were significantly associated with the eGFR in univariate models (standard βs between −0.38 and −0.21; all P < 0.04). After adjusting for age, sex, plasma concentration of the corresponding damage marker, and albuminuria, only the association of H-FABP with eGFR remained significant (standard β −0.26; P = 0.037).
Glomerular and tubular markers are associated with albuminuria, independently of eGFR, suggesting that albuminuria reflects both glomerular and tubulointerstitial damage. Only urinary H-FABP is associated with eGFR independently of albuminuria and, therefore, may be a promising urinary damage marker to assess diabetic kidney disease.
PMCID: PMC3064060  PMID: 21307379
15.  N-Glycosylation of Carnosinase Influences Protein Secretion and Enzyme Activity 
Diabetes  2010;59(8):1984-1990.
The (CTG)n polymorphism in the serum carnosinase (CN-1) gene affects CN-1 secretion. Since CN-1 is heavily glycosylated and glycosylation might influence protein secretion as well, we tested the role of N-glycosylation for CN-1 secretion and enzyme activity. We also tested whether CN-1 secretion is changed under hyperglycemic conditions.
N-glycosylation of CN-1 was either inhibited by tunicamycin in pCSII-CN-1–transfected Cos-7 cells or by stepwise deletion of its three putative N-glycosylation sites. CN-1 protein expression, N-glycosylation, and enzyme activity were assessed in cell extracts and supernatants. The influence of hyperglycemia on CN-1 enzyme activity in human serum was tested in homozygous (CTG)5 diabetic patients and healthy control subjects.
Tunicamycin completely inhibited CN-1 secretion. Deletion of all N-glycosylation sites was required to reduce CN-1 secretion efficiency. Enzyme activity was already diminished when two sites were deleted. In pCSII-CN-1–transfected Cos-7 cells cultured in medium containing 25 mmol/l d-glucose, the immature 61 kilodaltons (kDa) CN-1 immune reactive band was not detected. This was paralleled by an increased GlcNAc expression in cell lysates and CN-1 expression in the supernatants. Homozygous (CTG)5 diabetic patients had significantly higher serum CN-1 activity compared with genotype-matched, healthy control subjects.
We conclude that apart from the (CTG)n polymorphism in the signal peptide of CN-1, N-glycosylation is essential for appropriate secretion and enzyme activity. Since hyperglycemia enhances CN-1 secretion and enzyme activity, our data suggest that poor blood glucose control in diabetic patients might result in an increased CN-1 secretion even in the presence of the (CTG)5 allele.
PMCID: PMC2911063  PMID: 20460427
16.  Association Between CNDP1 Genotype and Diabetic Nephropathy Is Sex Specific 
Diabetes  2010;59(6):1555-1559.
The 5-5 homozygous CNDP1 (carnosinase) genotype is associated with a reduced risk of diabetic nephropathy. We investigated whether this association is sex specific and independent of susceptibility for type 2 diabetes.
Three separate groups of 114, 90, and 66 patients with type 2 diabetes and diabetic nephropathy were included in this study and compared with 93 patients with type 2 diabetes for >15 years without diabetic nephropathy and 472 population control subjects. The diabetes control group was used to determine an association in the three patient groups separately, and the population control group was used to estimate the genotype risk [odds ratio (CI)] for the population in a pooled analysis. The population control subjects were also compared with 562 patients with type 2 diabetes without diabetic nephropathy to determine whether the association was independent of type 2 diabetes. The CNDP1 genotype was determined by fragment analysis after PCR amplification.
The frequency of the 5-5 homozygous genotype was 28, 36, and 41% in the three diabetic nephropathy patient groups and 43 and 42% in the diabetic and population control subjects, respectively. The 5-5 homozygous genotype occurred significantly less frequently in women in all three patient groups compared with diabetic control subjects. The genotype risk for the population was estimated to be 0.5 (0.30–0.68) in women and 1.2 (0.77–1.69) in men. The 562 patients with type 2 diabetes without diabetic nephropathy did not differ from the general population (P = 0.23).
This study suggests that the association between the CNDP1 gene and diabetic nephropathy is sex specific and independent of susceptibility for type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2874718  PMID: 20332346
17.  Age and cystatin C in healthy adults: a collaborative study 
Background. Kidney function declines with age, but a substantial portion of this decline has been attributed to the higher prevalence of risk factors for kidney disease at older ages. The effect of age on kidney function has not been well described in a healthy population across a wide age spectrum.
Methods. The authors pooled individual-level cross-sectional data from 18 253 persons aged 28–100 years in four studies: the Cardiovascular Health Study; the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study; the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and the Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-Stage Disease cohort. Kidney function was measured by cystatin C. Clinical risk factors for kidney disease included diabetes, hypertension, obesity, smoking, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral arterial disease and heart failure.
Results. Across the age range, there was a strong, non-linear association of age with cystatin C concentration. This association was substantial, even among participants free of clinical risk factors for kidney disease; mean cystatin C levels were 46% higher in participants 80 and older compared with those <40 years (1.06 versus 0.72 mg/L, P < 0.001). Participants with one or more risk factors had higher cystatin C concentrations for a given age, and the age association was slightly stronger (P < 0.001 for age and risk factor interaction).
Conclusions. There is a strong, non-linear association of age with kidney function, even in healthy individuals. An important area for research will be to investigate the mechanisms that lead to deterioration of kidney function in apparently healthy persons.
PMCID: PMC2904248  PMID: 19749145
ageing; chronic kidney disease; cystatin C; epidemiology
18.  Multicentric Validation of Proteomic Biomarkers in Urine Specific for Diabetic Nephropathy 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13421.
Urine proteome analysis is rapidly emerging as a tool for diagnosis and prognosis in disease states. For diagnosis of diabetic nephropathy (DN), urinary proteome analysis was successfully applied in a pilot study. The validity of the previously established proteomic biomarkers with respect to the diagnostic and prognostic potential was assessed on a separate set of patients recruited at three different European centers. In this case-control study of 148 Caucasian patients with diabetes mellitus type 2 and duration ≥5 years, cases of DN were defined as albuminuria >300 mg/d and diabetic retinopathy (n = 66). Controls were matched for gender and diabetes duration (n = 82).
Methodology/Principal Findings
Proteome analysis was performed blinded using high-resolution capillary electrophoresis coupled with mass spectrometry (CE-MS). Data were evaluated employing the previously developed model for DN. Upon unblinding, the model for DN showed 93.8% sensitivity and 91.4% specificity, with an AUC of 0.948 (95% CI 0.898-0.978). Of 65 previously identified peptides, 60 were significantly different between cases and controls of this study. In <10% of cases and controls classification by proteome analysis not entirely resulted in the expected clinical outcome. Analysis of patient's subsequent clinical course revealed later progression to DN in some of the false positive classified DN control patients.
These data provide the first independent confirmation that profiling of the urinary proteome by CE-MS can adequately identify subjects with DN, supporting the generalizability of this approach. The data further establish urinary collagen fragments as biomarkers for diabetes-induced renal damage that may serve as earlier and more specific biomarkers than the currently used urinary albumin.
PMCID: PMC2958112  PMID: 20975990
19.  Dietary Protein and Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12102.
Elevated blood pressure (BP), which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, is highly prevalent worldwide. Recently, interest has grown in the role of dietary protein in human BP. We performed a systematic review of all published scientific literature on dietary protein, including protein from various sources, in relation to human BP.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We performed a MEDLINE search and a manual search to identify English language studies on the association between protein and blood pressure, published before June 2010. A total of 46 papers met the inclusion criteria. Most observational studies showed no association or an inverse association between total dietary protein and BP or incident hypertension. Results of biomarker studies and randomized controlled trials indicated a beneficial effect of protein on BP. This beneficial effect may be mainly driven by plant protein, according to results in observational studies. Data on protein from specific sources (e.g. from fish, dairy, grain, soy, and nut) were scarce. There was some evidence that BP in people with elevated BP and/or older age could be more sensitive to dietary protein.
In conclusion, evidence suggests a small beneficial effect of protein on BP, especially for plant protein. A blood pressure lowering effect of protein may have important public health implications. However, this warrants further investigation in randomized controlled trials. Furthermore, more data are needed on protein from specific sources in relation to BP, and on the protein-BP relation in population subgroups.
PMCID: PMC2920332  PMID: 20711407
20.  High Urinary Excretion of Kidney Injury Molecule-1 Is an Independent Predictor of Graft Loss in Renal Transplant Recipients 
Transplantation  2007;84(12):1625-1630.
Chronic transplant dysfunction is characterized by renal function decline and proteinuria. Kidney injury molecule (KIM)-1, a transmembrane tubular protein with unknown function, is undetectable in normal kidneys, but markedly induced after injury. Urinary KIM-1 excretion has been quantified as biomarker of renal damage. We prospectively studied whether urinary KIM-1 predicts graft loss, independent of renal function and proteinuria.
Renal transplant recipients (n=145) visiting our outpatient clinic between August 2001 and July 2003 collected 24-hour urine samples for assessment of baseline urinary KIM-1 excretion (microsphere-based Luminex technology), and were followed for graft loss.
Recipients participated at a median (interquartile range) of 6.0 (2.5–12.0) years posttransplant in baseline measurements. Follow-up beyond baseline was 4.0 (3.2–4.5) years. Urinary KIM-1 excretion was 0.72 (0.42–1.37) ng per 24 hours. Occurrence of graft loss increased over tertiles of KIM-1 excretion: 3 (6.3%), 11 (22.4%), and 17 cases (35.4%; P=0.001), respectively. High KIM-1 excretion was associated with proteinuria, low creatinine clearance, and high donor age (all P<0.01). In multivariate Cox regression analyses, prediction of graft loss by KIM-1 appeared independent of creatinine clearance, proteinuria, and donorage. Hazard ratios (95% CI) for the second and third tertile of KIM-1 excretion were 3.6 (0.9–13.5) and 5.1 (1.5–17.8) in the final model.
Urinary excretion of KIM-1 is an independent predictor of long-term graft loss and therefore a promising new biomarker in early prediction of graft loss.
PMCID: PMC2745062  PMID: 18165774
Chronic transplant dysfunction; Renal transplantation; Kidney injury molecule-1; Biomarker
21.  Serum Peroxiredoxin 4: A Marker of Oxidative Stress Associated with Mortality in Type 2 Diabetes (ZODIAC-28) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89719.
Oxidative stress plays an underlying pathophysiologic role in the development of diabetes complications. The aim of this study was to investigate peroxiredoxin 4 (Prx4), a proposed novel biomarker of oxidative stress, and its association with and capability as a biomarker in predicting (cardiovascular) mortality in type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Prx4 was assessed in baseline serum samples of 1161 type 2 diabetes patients. Cox proportional hazard models were used to evaluate the relationschip between Prx4 and (cardiovascular) mortality. Risk prediction capabilities of Prx4 for (cardiovascular) mortality were assessed with Harrell’s C statistic, the integrated discrimination improvement and net reclassification improvement.
Mean age was 67 and the median diabetes duration was 4.0 years. After a median follow-up period of 5.8 years, 327 patients died; 137 cardiovascular deaths. Prx4 was associated with (cardiovascular) mortality. The Cox proportional hazard models added the variables: Prx4 (model 1); age and gender (model 2), and BMI, creatinine, smoking, diabetes duration, systolic blood pressure, cholesterol-HDL ratio, history of macrovascular complications, and albuminuria (model 3). Hazard ratios (HR) (95% CI) for cardiovascular mortality were 1.93 (1.57 – 2.38), 1.75 (1.39 – 2.20), and 1.63 (1.28 – 2.09) for models 1, 2 and 3, respectively. HR for all-cause mortality were 1.73 (1.50 – 1.99), 1.50 (1.29 – 1.75), and 1.44 (1.23 – 1.67) for models 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Addition of Prx4 to the traditional risk factors slightly improved risk prediction of (cardiovascular) mortality.
Prx4 is independently associated with (cardiovascular) mortality in type 2 diabetes patients. After addition of Prx4 to the traditional risk factors, there was a slightly improvement in risk prediction of (cardiovascular) mortality in this patient group.
PMCID: PMC3934910  PMID: 24586984
22.  Genome-wide association analyses identify 18 new loci associated with serum urate concentrations 
Köttgen, Anna | Albrecht, Eva | Teumer, Alexander | Vitart, Veronique | Krumsiek, Jan | Hundertmark, Claudia | Pistis, Giorgio | Ruggiero, Daniela | O’Seaghdha, Conall M | Haller, Toomas | Yang, Qiong | Tanaka, Toshiko | Johnson, Andrew D | Kutalik, Zoltán | Smith, Albert V | Shi, Julia | Struchalin, Maksim | Middelberg, Rita P S | Brown, Morris J | Gaffo, Angelo L | Pirastu, Nicola | Li, Guo | Hayward, Caroline | Zemunik, Tatijana | Huffman, Jennifer | Yengo, Loic | Zhao, Jing Hua | Demirkan, Ayse | Feitosa, Mary F | Liu, Xuan | Malerba, Giovanni | Lopez, Lorna M | van der Harst, Pim | Li, Xinzhong | Kleber, Marcus E | Hicks, Andrew A | Nolte, Ilja M | Johansson, Asa | Murgia, Federico | Wild, Sarah H | Bakker, Stephan J L | Peden, John F | Dehghan, Abbas | Steri, Maristella | Tenesa, Albert | Lagou, Vasiliki | Salo, Perttu | Mangino, Massimo | Rose, Lynda M | Lehtimäki, Terho | Woodward, Owen M | Okada, Yukinori | Tin, Adrienne | Müller, Christian | Oldmeadow, Christopher | Putku, Margus | Czamara, Darina | Kraft, Peter | Frogheri, Laura | Thun, Gian Andri | Grotevendt, Anne | Gislason, Gauti Kjartan | Harris, Tamara B | Launer, Lenore J | McArdle, Patrick | Shuldiner, Alan R | Boerwinkle, Eric | Coresh, Josef | Schmidt, Helena | Schallert, Michael | Martin, Nicholas G | Montgomery, Grant W | Kubo, Michiaki | Nakamura, Yusuke | Tanaka, Toshihiro | Munroe, Patricia B | Samani, Nilesh J | Jacobs, David R | Liu, Kiang | D’Adamo, Pio | Ulivi, Sheila | Rotter, Jerome I | Psaty, Bruce M | Vollenweider, Peter | Waeber, Gerard | Campbell, Susan | Devuyst, Olivier | Navarro, Pau | Kolcic, Ivana | Hastie, Nicholas | Balkau, Beverley | Froguel, Philippe | Esko, Tõnu | Salumets, Andres | Khaw, Kay Tee | Langenberg, Claudia | Wareham, Nicholas J | Isaacs, Aaron | Kraja, Aldi | Zhang, Qunyuan | Wild, Philipp S | Scott, Rodney J | Holliday, Elizabeth G | Org, Elin | Viigimaa, Margus | Bandinelli, Stefania | Metter, Jeffrey E | Lupo, Antonio | Trabetti, Elisabetta | Sorice, Rossella | Döring, Angela | Lattka, Eva | Strauch, Konstantin | Theis, Fabian | Waldenberger, Melanie | Wichmann, H-Erich | Davies, Gail | Gow, Alan J | Bruinenberg, Marcel | Study, LifeLines Cohort | Stolk, Ronald P | Kooner, Jaspal S | Zhang, Weihua | Winkelmann, Bernhard R | Boehm, Bernhard O | Lucae, Susanne | Penninx, Brenda W | Smit, Johannes H | Curhan, Gary | Mudgal, Poorva | Plenge, Robert M | Portas, Laura | Persico, Ivana | Kirin, Mirna | Wilson, James F | Leach, Irene Mateo | van Gilst, Wiek H | Goel, Anuj | Ongen, Halit | Hofman, Albert | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Uitterlinden, Andre G | Imboden, Medea | von Eckardstein, Arnold | Cucca, Francesco | Nagaraja, Ramaiah | Piras, Maria Grazia | Nauck, Matthias | Schurmann, Claudia | Budde, Kathrin | Ernst, Florian | Farrington, Susan M | Theodoratou, Evropi | Prokopenko, Inga | Stumvoll, Michael | Jula, Antti | Perola, Markus | Salomaa, Veikko | Shin, So-Youn | Spector, Tim D | Sala, Cinzia | Ridker, Paul M | Kähönen, Mika | Viikari, Jorma | Hengstenberg, Christian | Nelson, Christopher P | Consortium, CARDIoGRAM | Consortium, DIAGRAM | Consortium, ICBP | Consortium, MAGIC | Meschia, James F | Nalls, Michael A | Sharma, Pankaj | Singleton, Andrew B | Kamatani, Naoyuki | Zeller, Tanja | Burnier, Michel | Attia, John | Laan, Maris | Klopp, Norman | Hillege, Hans L | Kloiber, Stefan | Choi, Hyon | Pirastu, Mario | Tore, Silvia | Probst-Hensch, Nicole M | Völzke, Henry | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Parsa, Afshin | Schmidt, Reinhold | Whitfield, John B | Fornage, Myriam | Gasparini, Paolo | Siscovick, David S | Polašek, Ozren | Campbell, Harry | Rudan, Igor | Bouatia-Naji, Nabila | Metspalu, Andres | Loos, Ruth J F | van Duijn, Cornelia M | Borecki, Ingrid B | Ferrucci, Luigi | Gambaro, Giovanni | Deary, Ian J | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H R | Chambers, John C | März, Winfried | Pramstaller, Peter P | Snieder, Harold | Gyllensten, Ulf | Wright, Alan F | Navis, Gerjan | Watkins, Hugh | Witteman, Jacqueline C M | Sanna, Serena | Schipf, Sabine | Dunlop, Malcolm G | Tönjes, Anke | Ripatti, Samuli | Soranzo, Nicole | Toniolo, Daniela | Chasman, Daniel I | Raitakari, Olli | Kao, W H Linda | Ciullo, Marina | Fox, Caroline S | Caulfield, Mark | Bochud, Murielle | Gieger, Christian
Nature genetics  2012;45(2):145-154.
Elevated serum urate concentrations can cause gout, a prevalent and painful inflammatory arthritis. By combining data from >140,000 individuals of European ancestry within the Global Urate Genetics Consortium (GUGC), we identified and replicated 28 genome-wide significant loci in association with serum urate concentrations (18 new regions in or near TRIM46, INHBB, SFMBT1, TMEM171, VEGFA, BAZ1B, PRKAG2, STC1, HNF4G, A1CF, ATXN2, UBE2Q2, IGF1R, NFAT5, MAF, HLF, ACVR1B-ACVRL1 and B3GNT4). Associations for many of the loci were of similar magnitude in individuals of non-European ancestry. We further characterized these loci for associations with gout, transcript expression and the fractional excretion of urate. Network analyses implicate the inhibins-activins signaling pathways and glucose metabolism in systemic urate control. New candidate genes for serum urate concentration highlight the importance of metabolic control of urate production and excretion, which may have implications for the treatment and prevention of gout.
PMCID: PMC3663712  PMID: 23263486
23.  Vitamin K Intake and Plasma Desphospho-Uncarboxylated Matrix Gla-Protein Levels in Kidney Transplant Recipients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47991.
Vitamin K is essential for activation of γ-carboxyglutamate (Gla)-proteins including the vascular calcification inhibitor matrix Gla-protein (MGP). Insufficient vitamin K intake leads to production of uncarboxylated, mostly inactive proteins and contributes to an increased cardiovascular risk. In kidney transplant recipients, cardiovascular risk is high but vitamin K intake and status have not been defined. We investigated dietary vitamin K intake, vascular vitamin K status and its determinants in kidney transplant recipients. We estimated vitamin K intake in a cohort of kidney transplant recipients (n = 60) with stable renal function (creatinine clearance 61 [42–77] (median [interquartile range]) ml/min), who were 75 [35–188] months after transplantation, using three-day food records and food frequency questionnaires. Vascular vitamin K status was assessed by measuring plasma desphospho-uncarboxylated MGP (dp-ucMGP). Total vitamin K intake was below the recommended level in 50% of patients. Lower vitamin K intake was associated with less consumption of green vegetables (33 vs 40 g/d, p = 0.06) and increased dp-ucMGP levels (621 vs 852 pmol/L, p<0.05). Accordingly, dp-ucMGP levels were elevated (>500 pmol/L) in 80% of patients. Multivariate regression identified creatinine clearance, coumarin use, body mass index, high sensitivity-CRP and sodium excretion as independent determinants of dp-ucMGP levels. In a considerable part of the kidney transplant population, vitamin K intake is too low for maximal carboxylation of vascular MGP. The high dp-ucMGP levels may result in an increased risk for arterial calcification. Whether increasing vitamin K intake may have health benefits for kidney transplant recipients should be addressed by future studies.
PMCID: PMC3485347  PMID: 23118917
24.  Peroxiredoxin 4, A Novel Circulating Biomarker for Oxidative Stress and the Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality 
Oxidative stress has been suggested to play a key role in the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The aim of our study was to investigate the associations of serum peroxiredoxin 4 (Prx4), a hydrogen peroxide–degrading peroxidase, with incident CVD and all-cause mortality. We subsequently examined the incremental value of Prx4 for the risk prediction of CVD compared with the Framingham risk score (FRS).
Methods and Results
We performed Cox regression analyses in 8141 participants without history of CVD (aged 28 to 75 years; women 52.6%) from the Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-stage Disease (PREVEND) study in Groningen, The Netherlands. Serum Prx4 was measured by an immunoluminometric assay in baseline samples. Main outcomes were: (1) incident CVD events or CVD mortality and (2) all-cause mortality during a median follow-up of 10.5 years. In total, 708 participants (7.8%) developed CVD events or CVD mortality, and 517 participants (6.3%) died. Baseline serum Prx4 levels were significantly higher in participants with incident CVD events or CVD mortality and in those who died than in participants who remained free of outcomes (both P<0.001). In multivariable models with adjustment for Framingham risk factors, hazard ratios were 1.16 (95% CI 1.06 to 1.27, P<0.001) for incident CVD events or CVD mortality and 1.17 (95% CI 1.06 to 1.29, P=0.003) for all-cause mortality per doubling of Prx4 levels. After the addition of Prx4 to the FRS, the net reclassification improvement was 2.7% (P=0.01) using 10-year risk categories of CVD.
Elevated serum Prx4 levels are associated with a significantly higher risk of incident CVD events or CVD mortality and all-cause mortality after adjustment for clinical risk factors. The addition of Prx4 to the FRS marginally improved risk prediction of future CVD.
PMCID: PMC3541606  PMID: 23316297
cardiovascular disease; epidemiology; mortality; oxidative stress; peroxiredoxin 4
25.  Effect of Benfotiamine on Advanced Glycation Endproducts and Markers of Endothelial Dysfunction and Inflammation in Diabetic Nephropathy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40427.
Formation of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), endothelial dysfunction, and low-grade inflammation are intermediate pathways of hyperglycemia-induced vascular complications. We investigated the effect of benfotiamine on markers of these pathways in patients with type 2 diabetes and nephropathy.
Patients with type 2 diabetes and urinary albumin excretion in the high-normal and microalbuminuric range (15–300 mg/24h) were randomized to receive benfotiamine (n = 39) or placebo (n = 43). Plasma and urinary AGEs (Nε-(carboxymethyl) lysine [CML], Nε-(Carboxyethyl) lysine [CEL], and 5-hydro-5-methylimidazolone [MG-H1]) and plasma markers of endothelial dysfunction (soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 [sVCAM-1], soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 [sICAM-1], soluble E-selectin) and low-grade inflammation (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein [hs-CRP], serum amyloid-A [SAA], myeloperoxidase [MPO]) were measured at baseline and after 6 and 12 weeks.
Compared to placebo, benfotiamine did not result in significant reductions in plasma or urinary AGEs or plasma markers of endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation.
Benfotiamine for 12 weeks did not significantly affect intermediate pathways of hyperglycemia-induced vascular complications.
Trial Regristration NCT00565318
PMCID: PMC3391239  PMID: 22792314

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