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1.  Metformin versus placebo in combination with insulin analogues in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus—the randomised, blinded Copenhagen Insulin and Metformin Therapy (CIMT) trial 
BMJ Open  2016;6(2):e008376.
To assess the effect of metformin versus placebo both in combination with insulin analogue treatment on changes in carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Design and setting
Investigator-initiated, randomised, placebo-controlled trial with a 2×3 factorial design conducted at eight hospitals in Denmark.
Participants and interventions
412 participants with type 2 diabetes (glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) ≥7.5% (≥58 mmol/mol); body mass index >25 kg/m2) were in addition to open-labelled insulin treatment randomly assigned 1:1 to 18 months blinded metformin (1 g twice daily) versus placebo, aiming at an HbA1c ≤7.0% (≤53 mmol/mol).
The primary outcome was change in the mean carotid IMT (a marker of subclinical cardiovascular disease). HbA1c, insulin dose, weight and hypoglycaemic and serious adverse events were other prespecified outcomes.
Change in the mean carotid IMT did not differ significantly between the groups (between-group difference 0.012 mm (95% CI −0.003 to 0.026), p=0.11). HbA1c was more reduced in the metformin group (between-group difference −0.42% (95% CI −0.62% to −0.23%), p<0.001)), despite the significantly lower insulin dose at end of trial in the metformin group (1.04 IU/kg (95% CI 0.94 to 1.15)) compared with placebo (1.36 IU/kg (95% CI 1.23 to 1.51), p<0.001). The metformin group gained less weight (between-group difference −2.6 kg (95% CI −3.3 to −1.8), p<0.001). The groups did not differ with regard to number of patients with severe or non-severe hypoglycaemic or other serious adverse events, but the metformin group had more non-severe hypoglycaemic episodes (4347 vs 3161, p<0.001).
Metformin in combination with insulin did not reduce carotid IMT despite larger reduction in HbA1c, less weight gain, and smaller insulin dose compared with placebo plus insulin. However, the trial only reached 46% of the planned sample size and lack of power may therefore have affected our results.
Trial registration number
NCT00657943; Results.
PMCID: PMC4771973  PMID: 26916684
2.  Effects of biphasic, basal-bolus or basal insulin analogue treatments on carotid intima-media thickness in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: the randomised Copenhagen Insulin and Metformin Therapy (CIMT) trial 
BMJ Open  2016;6(2):e008377.
To assess the effect of 3 insulin analogue regimens on change in carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Design and setting
Investigator-initiated, randomised, placebo-controlled trial with a 2×3 factorial design, conducted at 8 hospitals in Denmark.
Participants and interventions
Participants with type 2 diabetes (glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c)≥7.5% (≥58 mmol/mol), body mass index >25 kg/m2) were, in addition to metformin versus placebo, randomised to 18 months open-label biphasic insulin aspart 1–3 times daily (n=137) versus insulin aspart 3 times daily in combination with insulin detemir once daily (n=138) versus insulin detemir alone once daily (n=137), aiming at HbA1c≤7.0% (≤53 mmol/mol).
Primary outcome was change in mean carotid IMT (a marker of subclinical cardiovascular disease). HbA1c, insulin dose, weight, and hypoglycaemic and serious adverse events were other prespecified outcomes.
Carotid IMT change did not differ between groups (biphasic −0.009 mm (95% CI −0.022 to 0.004), aspart+detemir 0.000 mm (95% CI −0.013 to 0.013), detemir −0.012 mm (95% CI −0.025 to 0.000)). HbA1c was more reduced with biphasic (−1.0% (95% CI −1.2 to −0.8)) compared with the aspart+detemir (−0.4% (95% CI −0.6 to −0.3)) and detemir (−0.3% (95% CI −0.4 to −0.1)) groups (p<0.001). Weight gain was higher in the biphasic (3.3 kg (95% CI 2.7 to 4.0) and aspart+detemir (3.2 kg (95% CI 2.6 to 3.9)) compared with the detemir group (1.9 kg (95% CI 1.3 to 2.6)). Insulin dose was higher with detemir (1.6 IU/kg/day (95% CI 1.4 to 1.8)) compared with biphasic (1.0 IU/kg/day (95% CI 0.9 to 1.1)) and aspart+detemir (1.1 IU/kg/day (95% CI 1.0 to 1.3)) (p<0.001). Number of participants with severe hypoglycaemia and serious adverse events did not differ.
Carotid IMT change did not differ between 3 insulin regimens despite differences in HbA1c, weight gain and insulin doses. The trial only reached 46% of planned sample size and lack of power may therefore have affected our results.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC4771974  PMID: 26916685
3.  The Degree of Autonomic Modulation Is Associated With the Severity of Microvascular Complications in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes 
Objective: The objective of this study was to elucidate whether the degree of autonomic modulation is associated with the degree of microvascular complications in patients with type 1 diabetes. Methods: A total of 290 type 1 individuals with diabetes were randomly recruited during normal visits to outpatient clinics at 4 Danish hospitals. The degree of autonomic modulations was quantified by measuring heart rate variability (HRV) during passive spectral analysis and active tests (valsalva ratio [VT], response to standing [RT], and deep breathing [E:I]). To describe possible associations between severity of microvascular complications and measures of autonomic modulation, multivariate analysis was performed. Results: After adjusting for diabetes duration, sex, age, pulse pressure, heart rate, and smoking, autonomic dysfunction remained significantly correlated with severity of retinopathy, nephropathy, and peripheral neuropathy in individuals with type 1 diabetes patients. Conclusions: Autonomic dysfunction is present in early stages of retinopathy, nephropathy, and peripheral neuropathy in patients with type 1 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC4604533  PMID: 25591852
microvascular complications; type 1 diabetes; heart rate variability (HRV)
4.  Combining Information of Autonomic Modulation and CGM Measurements Enables Prediction and Improves Detection of Spontaneous Hypoglycemic Events 
We have previously tested, in a laboratory setting, a novel algorithm that enables prediction of hypoglycemia. The algorithm integrates information of autonomic modulation, based on heart rate variability (HRV), and data based on a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device. Now, we investigate whether the algorithm is suitable for prediction of hypoglycemia and for improvement of hypoglycemic detection during normal daily activities.
Twenty-one adults (13 men) with T1D prone to hypoglycemia were recruited and monitored with CGM and a Holter device while they performed normal daily activities. We used our developed algorithm (a pattern classification method) to predict spontaneous hypoglycemia based on CGM and HRV. We compared 3 different models; (i) a model containing raw data from the CGM device; (ii) a CGM* model containing data derived from the CGM device signal; and (iii) a CGM+HRV model-combining model (ii) with HRV data.
A total of 12 hypoglycemic events (glucose levels < 3.9 mmol/L, 70 mg/dL) and 237 euglycemic measurements were included. For a 20-minute prediction, model (i) resulted in a ROC AUC of 0.69. If a high sensitivity of 100% was chosen, the corresponding specificity was 69%. (ii) The CGM* model yielded a ROC AUC of 0.92 with a corresponding sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 71%. (iii) The CGM+HRV model yielded a ROC AUC of 0.96 with a corresponding sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 91%.
Data shows that adding information of autonomic modulation to CGM measurements enables prediction and improves the detection of hypoglycemia.
PMCID: PMC4495539  PMID: 25216731
continuous glucose monitoring; heart rate variability; hypoglycemia; diabetes; prediction
5.  A Novel Algorithm for Prediction and Detection of Hypoglycemia Based on Continuous Glucose Monitoring and Heart Rate Variability in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes 
Hypoglycemia is a common and serious side effect of insulin therapy in patients with diabetes. Early detection and prediction of hypoglycemia may improve treatment and avoidance of serious complications. Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) has previously been used for detection of hypoglycemia, but with a modest accuracy. Therefore, our aim was to investigate whether a novel algorithm that adds information of the complex dynamic/pattern of heart rate variability (HRV) could improve the accuracy of hypoglycemia as detected by a CGM device.
Data from 10 patients with type 1 diabetes studied during insulin-induced hypoglycemia were obtained. Blood glucose samples were used as reference. HRV patterns and CGM data were combined in a mathematical prediction algorithm. Detection of hypoglycemic periods, performed by the algorithm, was treated as a pattern recognition problem and features/patterns derived from HRV and CGM prior to each blood glucose sample were used to decide if that particular point in time was below the hypoglycemic threshold of 3.9 mmol/L.
A total of 903 samples were analyzed by the novel algorithm, which yielded a sensitivity of 79% and a specificity of 99%. The algorithm was able to detect 16/16 hypoglycemic events with no false positives and had a lead time of 22 minutes as compared to the CGM device.
Detection accuracy and lead time were significantly improved by the novel algorithm compared to that of CGM alone.
PMCID: PMC4764234  PMID: 24876412
continuous glucose monitoring; heart rate variability; hypoglycemia; diabetes
6.  Are human endogenous retroviruses triggers of autoimmune diseases? Unveiling associations of three diseases and viral loci 
Immunologic Research  2015;64:55-63.
Autoimmune diseases encompass a plethora of conditions in which the immune system attacks its own tissue, identifying them as foreign. Multiple factors are thought to contribute to the development of immune response to self, including differences in genotypes, hormonal milieu, and environmental factors. Viruses including human endogenous retroviruses have long been linked to the occurrence of autoimmunity, but never proven to be causative factors. Endogenous viruses are retroviral sequences embedded in the host germline DNA and transmitted vertically through successive generations in a Mendelian manner. In this study by means of genetic epidemiology, we have searched for the involvement of endogenous retroviruses in three selected autoimmune diseases: multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and rheumatoid arthritis. We found that at least one human endogenous retroviral locus was associated with each of the three diseases. Although there was a significant overlap, most loci only occurred in one of the studied disease. Remarkably, within each disease, there was a statistical interaction (synergy) between two loci. Additional synergy between retroviral loci and human lymphocyte antigens is reported for multiple sclerosis. We speculate the possibility that recombinants or mixed viral particles are formed and that the resulting viruses stimulate the innate immune system, thereby initiating the autoimmune response.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12026-015-8671-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4726719  PMID: 26091722
Multiple sclerosis; Type 1 diabetes mellitus; Rheumatoid arthritis; Synergy; Single nucleotide polymorphisms
7.  Elevated Urinary Connective Tissue Growth Factor in Diabetic Nephropathy Is Caused by Local Production and Tubular Dysfunction 
Journal of Diabetes Research  2015;2015:539787.
Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF; CCN2) plays a role in the development of diabetic nephropathy (DN). Urinary CTGF (uCTGF) is elevated in DN patients and has been proposed as a biomarker for disease progression, but it is unknown which pathophysiological factors contribute to elevated uCTGF. We studied renal handling of CTGF by infusion of recombinant CTGF in diabetic mice. In addition, uCTGF was measured in type 1 DN patients and compared with glomerular and tubular dysfunction and damage markers. In diabetic mice, uCTGF was increased and fractional excretion (FE) of recombinant CTGF was substantially elevated indicating reduced tubular reabsorption. FE of recombinant CTGF correlated with excretion of endogenous CTGF. CTGF mRNA was mainly localized in glomeruli and medullary tubules. Comparison of FE of endogenous and recombinant CTGF indicated that 60% of uCTGF had a direct renal source, while 40% originated from plasma CTGF. In DN patients, uCTGF was independently associated with markers of proximal and distal tubular dysfunction and damage. In conclusion, uCTGF in DN is elevated as a result of both increased local production and reduced reabsorption due to tubular dysfunction. We submit that uCTGF is a biomarker reflecting both glomerular and tubulointerstitial hallmarks of diabetic kidney disease.
PMCID: PMC4485941  PMID: 26171399
8.  Vitamin D, carotid intima–media thickness and bone structure in patients with type 2 diabetes 
Endocrine Connections  2015;4(2):128-135.
Despite aggressive treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D) still have increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. The primary aim of this study was to examine the cross-sectional association between total (25-hydroxy vitamin D (25(OH)D)) and risk of CVD in patients with T2D. Secondary objective was to examine the association between 25(OH)D and bone health. A Danish cohort of patients with T2D participating in a randomised clinical trial were analysed. In total 415 patients (68% men, age 60±9 years (mean±s.d.), duration of diabetes 12±6 years), including 294 patients (71%) treated with insulin. Carotid intima–media thickness (IMT) and arterial stiffness (carotid artery distensibility coefficient (DC) and Young's elastic modulus (YEM)) were measured by ultrasound scan as indicators of CVD. Bone health was assessed by bone mineral density and trabecular bone score measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. In this cohort, 214 patients (52%) were vitamin D deficient (25(OH)D <50 nmol/l). Carotid IMT was 0.793±0.137 mm, DC was 0.0030±0.001 mmHg, YEM was 2354±1038 mmHg and 13 (3%) of the patients were diagnosed with osteoporosis. A 25(OH)D level was not associated with carotid IMT or arterial stiffness (P>0.3) or bone health (P>0.6) after adjustment for CVD risk factors. In conclusion, 25(OH)D status was not associated with carotid IMT, arterial stiffness or bone health in this cohort of patients with T2D. To explore these associations and the association with other biomarkers further, multicentre studies with large numbers of patients are required.
PMCID: PMC4463474  PMID: 25956908
carotid intima–media thickness; 25-hydroxyvitamin D; bone structure; cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes
9.  Efficacy and safety of the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist liraglutide added to insulin therapy in poorly regulated patients with type 1 diabetes—a protocol for a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study: The Lira-1 study 
BMJ Open  2015;5(4):e007791.
Intensive insulin therapy is recommended for the treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Hypoglycaemia and weight gain are the common side effects of insulin treatment and may reduce compliance. In patients with insulin-treated type 2 diabetes, the addition of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA) therapy has proven effective in reducing weight gain and insulin dose. The present publication describes a protocol for a study evaluating the efficacy and safety of adding a GLP-1RA to insulin treatment in overweight patients with T1D in a randomised, double-blinded, controlled design.
Methods and analysis
In total, 100 patients with type 1 diabetes, poor glycaemic control (glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) >8%) and overweight (body mass index >25 kg/m2) will be randomised to either liraglutide 1.8 mg once daily or placebo as an add-on to intensive insulin therapy in this investigator initiated, double-blinded, placebo-controlled parallel study. The primary end point is glycaemic control as measured by changes in HbA1c. Secondary end points include changes in the insulin dose, hypoglyacemic events, body weight, lean body mass, fat mass, food preferences and adverse events. Glycaemic excursions, postprandial glucagon levels and gastric emptying rate during a standardised liquid meal test will also be studied.
Ethics and dissemination
The study is approved by the Danish Medicines Authority, the Regional Scientific-Ethical Committee of the Capital Region of Denmark and the Data Protection Agency. The study will be carried out under the surveillance and guidance of the good clinical practice (GCP) unit at Copenhagen University Hospital Bispebjerg in accordance with the ICH-GCP guidelines and the Helsinki Declaration.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC4390685  PMID: 25838513
10.  Cardiovascular Autonomic Neuropathy Is Associated With Macrovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes 
The objective was to identify the presence of cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy (CAN) in a cohort of individuals with diabetes in outpatient clinics from 4 different parts of Denmark and to explore the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes in relation to CAN.
The DAN-Study is a Danish multicenter study focusing on diabetic autonomic neuropathy. Over a period of 12 months, 382 type 1 and 271 type 2 individuals with diabetes were tested for CAN. Patients were randomly recruited and tested during normal visits to outpatient clinics at 4 Danish hospitals. The presence of CAN was quantified by performing 3 cardiovascular reflex tests (response to standing, deep breathing, and valsalva). To describe possible associations, multivariate analysis with CAN as the dependent variable was performed.
The prevalence of CAN was higher among patients with type 2 diabetes (35%) compared to patients with type 1 diabetes (25%). Multivariate analysis revealed significant associations between CAN and different risk markers in the 2 populations. In type 1 diabetes patients CAN was associated with microalbuminuria (P < .001), macroalbuminuria (P = .011), simplex retinopathy (P < .001), proliferative retinopathy (P < .001), and peripheral neuropathy (P = .041). Among type 2 diabetes patients CAN was independently associated with high pulse pressure (P < .01), BMI (P = .006), and smoking (P = .025).
In this cross-sectional observational study CAN was independently associated with microvascular complication in type 1, whereas in type 2 CAN was associated with macrovascular risk factors.
PMCID: PMC4764213  PMID: 24876410
cardiac autonomic neuropathy; diabetes; hypertension; macrovascular complications; microvascular complications
11.  Evaluation of an Algorithm for Retrospective Hypoglycemia Detection Using Professional Continuous Glucose Monitoring Data 
People with type 1 diabetes (T1D) are unable to produce insulin and thus rely on exogenous supply to lower their blood glucose. Studies have shown that intensive insulin therapy reduces the risk of late-diabetic complications by lowering average blood glucose. However, the therapy leads to increased incidence of hypoglycemia. Although inaccurate, professional continuous glucose monitoring (PCGM) can be used to identify hypoglycemic events, which can be useful for adjusting glucose-regulating factors. New pattern classification approaches based on identifying hypoglycemic events through retrospective analysis of PCGM data have shown promising results. The aim of this study was to evaluate a new pattern classification approach by comparing the performance with a newly developed PCGM calibration algorithm.
Ten male subjects with T1D were recruited and monitored with PCGM and self-monitoring blood glucose during insulin-induced hypoglycemia. A total of 19 hypoglycemic events occurred during the sessions.
The pattern classification algorithm detected 19/19 hypoglycemic events with 1 false positive, while the PCGM with the new calibration algorithm detected 17/19 events with 2 false positives.
We can conclude that even after the introduction of new calibration algorithms, the pattern classification approach is still a valuable addition for improving retrospective hypoglycemia detection using PCGM.
PMCID: PMC4454097  PMID: 24876547
diabetes; continuous glucose monitoring; retrospective; hypoglycemia; machine learning; calibration; evaluation
12.  Model Study of the Pressure Build-Up during Subcutaneous Injection 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104054.
In this study we estimate the subcutaneous tissue counter pressure during drug infusion from a series of injections of insulin in type 2 diabetic patients using a non-invasive method. We construct a model for the pressure evolution in subcutaneous tissue based on mass continuity and the flow laws of a porous medium. For equivalent injection forces we measure the change in the infusion rate between injections in air at atmospheric pressure and in tissue. From a best fit with our model, we then determine the flow permeability as well as the bulk modulus of the tissue, estimated to be of the order 10−11–10−10 m2 and 105 Pa, respectively. The permeability is in good agreement with reported values for adipose porcine tissue. We suggest our model as a general way to estimate the pressure build-up in tissue during subcutaneous injection.
PMCID: PMC4133188  PMID: 25122138
13.  A protocol for a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the effect of LIraglutide on left VEntricular function in chronic heart failure patients with and without type 2 diabetes (The LIVE Study) 
BMJ Open  2014;4(5):e004885.
Heart failure is one of the most common cardiovascular complications of diabetes and the most disabling and deadly complication too. Many antidiabetic agents have been associated with increased morbidity and mortality in a subset of patients with chronic heart failure (CHF); thus, new treatment modalities are warranted. Interestingly, a beneficial effect of the incretin hormone, GLP-1, on cardiac function has been suggested in patients with diabetes and patients without diabetes. Liraglutide (Victoza) is a GLP-1 analogue developed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes (T2D); however, its impact on cardiac function has not previously been investigated in patients with CHF. This prompted us to investigate whether liraglutide treatment for 24 weeks improves left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) in patients with CHF with and without T2D compared with placebo treatment.
Methods and analysis
An investigator-initiated, multicentre, randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled intervention trial. In total, 240 patients with CHF (with and without T2D) with LVEF≤45% will be randomised to either subcutaneous injection of liraglutide 1.8 mg or matching placebo once daily for 24 weeks. The effect of liraglutide on left ventricular function will be evaluated by advanced echocardiography, including three-dimensional contrast echocardiography.
Ethics and dissemination
The study will be performed and monitored according to the Good Clinical Practice-International Conference on Harmonisation (GCP-ICH) regulations and conducted according to the principles of the Helsinki Declaration. The Danish Medicines Agency, the local Research Ethics Committee and the Danish Data Protection Agency have approved the study.
Trial registration number Identifier: NCT01472640.
PMCID: PMC4039804  PMID: 24844271
14.  Professional Continuous Glucose Monitoring in Subjects with Type 1 Diabetes: Retrospective Hypoglycemia Detection 
An important task in diabetes management is detection of hypoglycemia. Professional continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), which produces a glucose reading every 5 min, is a powerful tool for retrospective identification of unrecognized hypoglycemia. Unfortunately, CGM devices tend to be inaccurate, especially in the hypoglycemic range, which limits their applicability for hypoglycemia detection. The objective of this study was to develop an automated pattern recognition algorithm to detect hypoglycemic events in retrospective, professional CGM.
Continuous glucose monitoring and plasma glucose (PG) readings were obtained from 17 data sets of 10 type 1 diabetes patients undergoing insulin-induced hypoglycemia. The CGM readings were automatically classified into a hypoglycemic group and a nonhypoglycemic group on the basis of different features from CGM readings and insulin injection. The classification was evaluated by comparing the automated classification with PG using sample-based and event-based sensitivity and specificity measures.
With an event-based sensitivity of 100%, the algorithm produced only one false hypoglycemia detection. The sample-based sensitivity and specificity levels were 78% and 96%, respectively.
The automated pattern recognition algorithm provides a new approach for detecting unrecognized hypoglycemic events in professional CGM data. The tool may assist physicians and diabetologists in conducting a more thorough evaluation of the diabetes patient’s glycemic control and in initiating necessary measures for improving glycemic control.
PMCID: PMC3692225  PMID: 23439169
continuous glucose monitoring; diabetes; hypoglycemia; machine learning; retrospective
15.  Screening for Diabetic Cardiac Autonomic Neuropathy Using a New Handheld Device 
Cardiac autonomic neuropathy (CAN) is a serious complication of longstanding diabetes and is associated with an increased morbidity and reduced quality of life in patients with diabetes. The present study evaluated the prevalence of CAN diagnosed by reduced heart rate variability (HRV) using a newly developed device in a large, unselected, hospital-based population of patients with diabetes.
The study examined 323 patients consisting of 206 type 1 diabetes (T1DM) patients and 117 type 2 diabetes (T2DM) patients. The new handheld prototype Vagus™ was used to screen for CAN. Three different standardized cardiac reflex tests were performed to calculate HRV: 30:15 ratio, E:I ratio, and the Valsalva maneuver. An abnormal HRV in one test is indicative of early CAN, and if two or more tests show abnormal HRV, the diagnosis of CAN is established.
In total, 86% of examined patients completed all three tests. Each test was completed by more than 90% of the patients. The prevalence of established CAN was 23%, whereas 33% of the patients had early signs of CAN. The prevalence was higher in T2DM patients (27.8%) than in T1DM patients (20.6 %), p = .02. Patients with CAN were older and had a longer duration of diabetes, higher systolic blood pressure, more nephropathy and retinopathy, and a higher vibration threshold.
Cardiac autonomic neuropathy is frequent in both T2DM and T1DM patients, especially in those with other late diabetes complications. Screening for CAN with the new device is feasible.
PMCID: PMC3440170  PMID: 22920825
cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy; cardiovascular reflex tests; diabetes mellitus; diagnostic tests; heart rate variability
16.  Influence of Erythropoietin on Cognitive Performance during Experimental Hypoglycemia in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: A Randomized Cross-Over Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e59672.
The incidence of severe hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes has not decreased over the past decades. New treatment modalities minimizing the risk of hypoglycemic episodes and attenuating hypoglycemic cognitive dysfunction are needed. We studied if treatment with the neuroprotective hormone erythropoietin (EPO) enhances cognitive function during hypoglycemia.
Materials and Methods
Eleven patients with type 1 diabetes, hypoglycemia unawareness and recurrent severe hypoglycemia completed the study. In a double-blind, randomized, balanced, cross-over study using clamped hypoglycemia they were treated with 40,000 IU of EPO or placebo administered intravenously six days before the two experiments. Cognitive function (primary endpoint), hypoglycemic symptoms, and counter-regulatory hormonal response were recorded.
Compared with placebo, EPO treatment was associated with a significant reduction in errors in the most complex reaction time task (−4.7 (−8.1 to −1.3), p = 0.01) and a less reaction time prolongation (−66 (−117 to −16) msec, p = 0.02). EPO treatment did not change performance in other measures of cognition. Hypoglycemic symptoms, EEG-changes, and counter-regulatory hormone concentrations did not differ between EPO and placebo treatment.
In patients with type 1 diabetes and hypoglycemia unawareness, treatment with EPO is associated with a beneficial effect on cognitive function in a complex reaction time task assessing sustained attention/working memory. Hypoglycemic symptoms and hormonal responses were not changed by EPO treatment.
Trial Registration NCT00615368
PMCID: PMC3618268  PMID: 23577069
17.  Paper Electrocardiograph Strips May Contain Overlooked Clinical Information in Screen-Detected Type 2 Diabetes Patients 
A large number of nondigitized electrocardiograph (ECG) strips are routinely collected in larger cohort studies such as the ADDITION study (Anglo-Danish-Dutch Study of Intensive Treatment in People with Screen-Detected Diabetes in Primary Care). These ECG strips are routinely read manually but may contain overlooked information revealing cardiac autonomic dysfunction. The aim of this study was to investigate whether clinical information may be lost using manual R wave to R wave (RR) interval measurements in the calculation of heart rate variability (HRV) in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
From the Danish part of the ADDITION study, we randomly selected 120 T2DM patients at baseline of the ADDITION study. Analysis of the ECG strips was performed using two different methods: (1) by experienced technicians using rulers and (2) by experienced technicians using a high-resolution computer-assisted method. Calculation of heart rate and time domain HRV [standard deviation of normal-to-normal RR intervals (SDNN) and root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD)] were performed with the same software.
When comparing results from the two methods, the following values of Pearson's r are obtained: 0.98 for heart rate, 0.76 for SDNN, and 0.68 for RMSSD. These results indicate that heart rate and HRV measurements by the computer-assisted and manually based methods correlate. However, Bland-Altman plots and Pitman's test of difference in variance revealed poor agreements (p < .01) for both HRV measurements (SDNN and RMSSD); only heart rate showed substantiated agreement (p = .54) between the two methods. Low HRV was statistically significantly associated to high heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure in these screen-detected T2DM patients.
Paper ECG strips may contain overlooked clinical information on the status of autonomic function in patients with T2DM. In our study, manual measurements of RR intervals were inferior to the computer-assisted method. Based on this study, we recommend cautiousness in the clinical use and interpretation of HRV based on manual or low resolution measurements of RR intervals from ECG strips. High resolution measurements of RR intervals reveal significant associations between low HRV and high heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure among patients with screen-detected T2DM. It is feasible to use a computer-assisted method to determine RR intervals in patients with T2DM.
PMCID: PMC3320824  PMID: 22401325
autonomic dysfunction; complications; diabetes; neuropathy; risk stratification; ultra short-term HRV
18.  Genetic Examination of SETD7 and SUV39H1/H2 Methyltransferases and the Risk of Diabetes Complications in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes 
Diabetes  2011;60(11):3073-3080.
Hyperglycemia plays a pivotal role in the development and progression of vascular complications, which are the major sources of morbidity and mortality in diabetes. Furthermore, these vascular complications often persist and progress despite improved glucose control, possibly as a result of prior episodes of hyperglycemia. Epigenetic modifications mediated by histone methyltransferases are associated with gene-activating events that promote enhanced expression of key proinflammatory molecules implicated in vascular injury. In this study, we investigated genetic polymorphisms of the SETD7, SUV39H1, and SUV39H2 methyltransferases as predictors of risk for micro- and macrovascular complications in type 1 diabetes.
In the Finnish Diabetic Nephropathy Study (FinnDiane) cohort, 37 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in 2,991 individuals with type 1 diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, diabetic nephropathy, and cardiovascular disease. Seven SNPs were genotyped in the replication cohorts from the Steno Diabetes Center and All Ireland/Warren 3/Genetics of Kidneys in Diabetes (GoKinD) U.K. study.
In a meta-analysis, the minor T allele of the exonic SNP rs17353856 in the SUV39H2 was associated with diabetic retinopathy (genotypic odds ratio 0.75, P = 1.2 × 10−4). The same SNP showed a trend toward an association with diabetic nephropathy as well as cardiovascular disease in the FinnDiane cohort.
Our findings propose that a genetic variation in a gene coding for a histone methyltransferase is protective for a diabetic microvascular complication. The pathophysiological implications of this polymorphism or other genetic variation nearby for the vascular complications of type 1 diabetes remain to be investigated.
PMCID: PMC3198095  PMID: 21896933
19.  New Susceptibility Loci Associated with Kidney Disease in Type 1 Diabetes 
Sandholm, Niina | Salem, Rany M. | McKnight, Amy Jayne | Brennan, Eoin P. | Forsblom, Carol | Isakova, Tamara | McKay, Gareth J. | Williams, Winfred W. | Sadlier, Denise M. | Mäkinen, Ville-Petteri | Swan, Elizabeth J. | Palmer, Cameron | Boright, Andrew P. | Ahlqvist, Emma | Deshmukh, Harshal A. | Keller, Benjamin J. | Huang, Huateng | Ahola, Aila J. | Fagerholm, Emma | Gordin, Daniel | Harjutsalo, Valma | He, Bing | Heikkilä, Outi | Hietala, Kustaa | Kytö, Janne | Lahermo, Päivi | Lehto, Markku | Lithovius, Raija | Österholm, Anne-May | Parkkonen, Maija | Pitkäniemi, Janne | Rosengård-Bärlund, Milla | Saraheimo, Markku | Sarti, Cinzia | Söderlund, Jenny | Soro-Paavonen, Aino | Syreeni, Anna | Thorn, Lena M. | Tikkanen, Heikki | Tolonen, Nina | Tryggvason, Karl | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Wadén, Johan | Gill, Geoffrey V. | Prior, Sarah | Guiducci, Candace | Mirel, Daniel B. | Taylor, Andrew | Hosseini, S. Mohsen | Parving, Hans-Henrik | Rossing, Peter | Tarnow, Lise | Ladenvall, Claes | Alhenc-Gelas, François | Lefebvre, Pierre | Rigalleau, Vincent | Roussel, Ronan | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Maestroni, Anna | Maestroni, Silvia | Falhammar, Henrik | Gu, Tianwei | Möllsten, Anna | Cimponeriu, Danut | Ioana, Mihai | Mota, Maria | Mota, Eugen | Serafinceanu, Cristian | Stavarachi, Monica | Hanson, Robert L. | Nelson, Robert G. | Kretzler, Matthias | Colhoun, Helen M. | Panduru, Nicolae Mircea | Gu, Harvest F. | Brismar, Kerstin | Zerbini, Gianpaolo | Hadjadj, Samy | Marre, Michel | Groop, Leif | Lajer, Maria | Bull, Shelley B. | Waggott, Daryl | Paterson, Andrew D. | Savage, David A. | Bain, Stephen C. | Martin, Finian | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Godson, Catherine | Florez, Jose C. | Groop, Per-Henrik | Maxwell, Alexander P.
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(9):e1002921.
Diabetic kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy (DN), is a major complication of diabetes and the leading cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) that requires dialysis treatment or kidney transplantation. In addition to the decrease in the quality of life, DN accounts for a large proportion of the excess mortality associated with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Whereas the degree of glycemia plays a pivotal role in DN, a subset of individuals with poorly controlled T1D do not develop DN. Furthermore, strong familial aggregation supports genetic susceptibility to DN. However, the genes and the molecular mechanisms behind the disease remain poorly understood, and current therapeutic strategies rarely result in reversal of DN. In the GEnetics of Nephropathy: an International Effort (GENIE) consortium, we have undertaken a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of T1D DN comprising ∼2.4 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) imputed in 6,691 individuals. After additional genotyping of 41 top ranked SNPs representing 24 independent signals in 5,873 individuals, combined meta-analysis revealed association of two SNPs with ESRD: rs7583877 in the AFF3 gene (P = 1.2×10−8) and an intergenic SNP on chromosome 15q26 between the genes RGMA and MCTP2, rs12437854 (P = 2.0×10−9). Functional data suggest that AFF3 influences renal tubule fibrosis via the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β1) pathway. The strongest association with DN as a primary phenotype was seen for an intronic SNP in the ERBB4 gene (rs7588550, P = 2.1×10−7), a gene with type 2 diabetes DN differential expression and in the same intron as a variant with cis-eQTL expression of ERBB4. All these detected associations represent new signals in the pathogenesis of DN.
Author Summary
The global prevalence of diabetes has reached epidemic proportions, constituting a major health care problem worldwide. Diabetic kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy (DN)—the major long term microvascular complication of diabetes—is associated with excess mortality among patients with type 1 diabetes. Even though DN has been shown to cluster in families, the underlying genetic and molecular pathways remain poorly defined. We have undertaken the largest genome-wide association study and meta-analysis to date on DN and on its most severe form of kidney disease, end-stage renal disease (ESRD). We identified new loci significantly associated with diabetic ESRD: AFF3 and an intergenic locus on chromosome 15q26 residing between RGMA and MCTP2. Our functional analyses suggest that AFF3 influences renal tubule fibrosis, a pathological hallmark of severe DN. Another locus in ERBB4 was suggestively associated with DN and resides in the same intronic region as a variant affecting the expression of ERBB4. Subsequent pathway analysis of the genes co-expressed with ERBB4 indicated involvement of fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3447939  PMID: 23028342
20.  A prospective randomised cross-over study of the effect of insulin analogues and human insulin on the frequency of severe hypoglycaemia in patients with type 1 diabetes and recurrent hypoglycaemia (the HypoAna trial): study rationale and design 
Severe hypoglycaemia still represents a significant problem in insulin-treated diabetes. Most patients do not experience severe hypoglycaemia often. However, 20% of patients with type 1 diabetes experience recurrent severe hypoglycaemia corresponding to at least two episodes per year. The effect of insulin analogues on glycaemic control has been documented in large trials, while their effect on the frequency of severe hypoglycaemia is less clear, especially in patients with recurrent severe hypoglycaemia. The HypoAna Trial is designed to investigate whether short-acting and long-acting insulin analogues in comparison with human insulin are superior in reducing the occurrence of severe hypoglycaemic episodes in patients with recurrent hypoglycaemia. This paper reports the study design of the HypoAna Trial.
The study is a Danish two-year investigator-initiated, prospective, randomised, open, blinded endpoint (PROBE), multicentre, cross-over trial investigating the effect of insulin analogues versus human insulin on the frequency of severe hypoglycaemia in subjects with type 1 diabetes. Patients are randomised to treatment with basal-bolus therapy with insulin detemir / insulin aspart or human NPH insulin / human regular insulin in random order. The major inclusion criterion is history of two or more episodes of severe hypoglycaemia in the preceding year.
In contrast to almost all other studies in this field the HypoAna Trial includes only patients with major problems with hypoglycaemia. The HypoAna Trial will elucidate whether basal-bolus regimen with short-acting and long-acting insulin analogues in comparison with human insulin are superior in reducing occurrence of severe hypoglycaemic episodes in hypoglycaemia prone patients with type 1 diabetes. NCT00346996.
PMCID: PMC3433358  PMID: 22727048
Type 1 diabetes; Severe hypoglycaemia; Human insulin; Insulin analogues; PROBE
21.  Higher Plasma Levels of Advanced Glycation End Products Are Associated With Incident Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality in Type 1 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(2):442-447.
To investigate the associations of plasma levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) with incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality in type 1 diabetes and the extent to which any such associations could be explained by endothelial and renal dysfunction, low-grade inflammation, and arterial stiffness.
We prospectively followed 169 individuals with diabetic nephropathy and 170 individuals with persistent normoalbuminuria who were free of CVD at study entry and in whom levels of Nε-(carboxymethyl)lysine, Nε-(carboxyethyl)lysine, pentosidine and other biomarkers were measured at baseline. The median follow-up duration was 12.3 (interquartile range 7.6–12.5) years.
During the course of follow-up, 82 individuals (24.2%) died; 85 (25.1%) suffered a fatal (n = 48) and/or nonfatal (n = 53) CVD event. The incidence of fatal and nonfatal CVD and of all-cause mortality increased with higher baseline levels of AGEs independently of traditional CVD risk factors: hazard ratio (HR) = 1.30 (95% CI = 1.03–1.66) and HR = 1.27 (1.00–1.62), respectively. These associations were not attenuated after further adjustments for markers of renal or endothelial dysfunction, low-grade inflammation, or arterial stiffness.
Higher levels of AGEs are associated with incident fatal and nonfatal CVD as well as all-cause mortality in individuals with type 1 diabetes, independently of other risk factors and of several potential AGEs-related pathophysiological mechanisms. Thus, AGEs may explain, in part, the increased cardiovascular disease and mortality attributable to type 1 diabetes and constitute a specific target for treatment in these patients.
PMCID: PMC3024364  PMID: 21270199
22.  Osteoprotegerin and Mortality in Type 2 Diabetic Patients 
Diabetes Care  2010;33(12):2561-2566.
Plasma osteoprotegerin (OPG) is an emerging strong and independent predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in high-risk populations. OPG is a bone-related glycopeptide produced by vascular smooth muscle cells, and increased plasma OPG levels may reflect arterial vascular damage. We aimed to investigate the prognostic value of OPG in relation to all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in a cohort of type 2 diabetic patients.
In a prospective observational follow-up study, 283 type 2 diabetic patients (172 men; aged 53.9 ± 8.8 years) were followed for a median of 16.8 years (range 0.2–23.0). Baseline plasma OPG concentrations were determined by immunoassay.
During follow-up, 193 (68%) patients died. High versus low levels of OPG predicted all-cause mortality (covariate-adjusted for urinary albumin excretion rate [UAER], estimated glomerular filtration rate, and conventional risk factors); hazard ratio (HR) 1.81 [95% CI 1.21–2.69]. The all-cause predictive effect of OPG was independent of NH2-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) and was also useful within groups divided according to level of UAER. In total, 103 (73%) patients died because of CVD. High and medium versus low levels of OPG predicted cardiovascular mortality (unadjusted HR 1.86 [95% CI 1.07–3.23] and 3.51 [2.10–5.85], respectively). However, after adjustment for the covariates, HRs were no longer significant.
Elevated plasma OPG is a strong predictor of all-cause mortality in type 2 diabetic patients. The effect of OPG on all-cause mortality was independent of conventional cardiovascular risk factors, UAER, and NT-proBNP levels.
PMCID: PMC2992191  PMID: 20929997
23.  Vitamin D Levels and Mortality in Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2010;33(10):2238-2243.
To evaluate vitamin D as a predictor of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality and risk of progression to micro- or macroalbuminuria in type 2 diabetic patients.
In a longitudinal observational follow-up study, 289 type 2 diabetic patients with normoalbuminuria (n = 172), microalbuminuria (n = 73), and macroalbuminuria (n = 44) at baseline were followed for a median (range) of 15.0 (0.2–23) years. Mean ± SD age was 54 ± 9 years. Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry on baseline samples. Severe vitamin D deficiency was defined as the lower 10th percentile (<13.9 nmol/l).
Median (range) vitamin D level was 35.7 (5–136.7) nmol/l. Vitamin D levels were not associated with age, sex, estimated glomerular filtration rate, urinary albumin excretion rate (UAER), or A1C at baseline, but low levels were weakly associated with elevated systolic blood pressure (R = 0.13, P = 0.03). During follow-up, 196 (68%) patients died. All-cause mortality was increased in patients with severe vitamin D deficiency (hazard ratio 1.96 [95% CI 1.29–2.98]). The association persisted after adjustment for UAER, A1C, diabetes duration, and conventional cardiovascular risk factors (2.03 [1.31–3.13]). Severe vitamin D deficiency was associated with increased cardiovascular mortality (1.95 [1.11–3.44]), and the association persisted after adjustment (1.90 [1.15–3.10]). Severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline did not predict progression to micro- or macroalbuminuria.
In type 2 diabetic patients, severe vitamin D deficiency predicts increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, independent of UAER and conventional cardiovascular risk factors. Whether vitamin D substitution improves prognosis remains to be investigated.
PMCID: PMC2945166  PMID: 20606205
24.  Novel Susceptibility Locus at 22q11 for Diabetic Nephropathy in Type 1 Diabetes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24053.
Diabetic nephropathy (DN) affects about 30% of patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and contributes to serious morbidity and mortality. So far only the 3q21–q25 region has repeatedly been indicated as a susceptibility region for DN. The aim of this study was to search for new DN susceptibility loci in Finnish, Danish and French T1D families.
Methods and Results
We performed a genome-wide linkage study using 384 microsatellite markers. A total of 175 T1D families were studied, of which 94 originated from Finland, 46 from Denmark and 35 from France. The whole sample set consisted of 556 individuals including 42 sib-pairs concordant and 84 sib-pairs discordant for DN. Two-point and multi-point non-parametric linkage analyses were performed using the Analyze package and the MERLIN software. A novel DN locus on 22q11 was identified in the joint analysis of the Finnish, Danish and French families by genome-wide multipoint non-parametric linkage analysis using the Kong and Cox linear model (NPLpairs LOD score 3.58). Nominal or suggestive evidence of linkage to this locus was also detected when the three populations were analyzed separately. Suggestive evidence of linkage was found to six additional loci in the Finnish and French sample sets.
This study identified a novel DN locus at chromosome 22q11 with significant evidence of linkage to DN. Our results suggest that this locus may be of importance in European populations. In addition, this study supports previously indicated DN loci on 3q21–q25 and 19q13.
PMCID: PMC3164698  PMID: 21909410
25.  Higher Plasma Soluble Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products (sRAGE) Levels Are Associated With Incident Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality in Type 1 Diabetes 
Diabetes  2010;59(8):2027-2032.
To investigate the associations of plasma levels of soluble receptor for advanced glycation end products (sRAGE) with incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality in type 1 diabetes and the extent to which any such associations could be explained by endothelial and renal dysfunction, low-grade inflammation, arterial stiffness, and advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
We prospectively followed 169 individuals with diabetic nephropathy and 170 individuals with persistent normoalbuminuria who were free of CVD at study entry and in whom levels of sRAGE and other biomarkers were measured at baseline. The median follow-up duration was 12.3 years (7.6–12.5).
The incidence of fatal and nonfatal CVD and all-cause mortality increased with higher baseline levels of log-transformed sRAGE (Ln-sRAGE) independently of other CVD risk factors: hazard ratio (HR) 1.90 (95% CI 1.13–3.21) and 2.12 (1.26–3.57) per 1-unit increase in Ln-sRAGE, respectively. Adjustments for estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFRMDRD), but not or to a smaller extent for markers of endothelial dysfunction, low-grade inflammation, arterial stiffness, and AGEs, attenuated these associations to HR 1.59 (95% CI 0.91–2.77) for fatal and nonfatal CVD events and to 1.90 (1.09–3.31) for all-cause mortality. In addition, in patients with nephropathy, the rate of decline of GFR was 1.38 ml/min/1.73 m2 per year greater per 1-unit increase of Ln-sRAGE at baseline (P = 0.036).
Higher levels of sRAGE are associated with incident fatal and nonfatal CVD and all-cause mortality in individuals with type 1 diabetes. sRAGE-associated renal dysfunction may partially explain this association.
PMCID: PMC2911054  PMID: 20522598

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