Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine have identified a new way to work out which people with obesity will develop type 2 diabetes and which won’t.
The predictions, which use a “fingerprint of inflammation” to work out who will and won’t get type 2 diabetes, could provide a better way of understanding the relationship between inflammation and type 2 diabetes. There is a lot of evidence that inflammation promotes obesity-related type 2 diabetes and diabetes complications, but anti-inflammatory drugs have only been somewhat successful in treating type 2 diabetes.
In the new study, researchers combined basic measures of inflammation in type 2 diabetes with mathematical analysis, allowing the understanding of all changes in inflammatory proteins. The researchers then ranked these changes from most to least important.
Using this predictive tool, the researchers identified dominant inflammatory proteins. One of the most dominant in type 2 diabetes, they found, was Th17, a protein connected to autoimmune disease.
“This newly identified fingerprint of inflammation relative to different traits of type 2 diabetes may be an important new biomarker to predict the 75 per cent of people with obesity who will become type 2 diabetic, versus the 25 per cent of people with obesity who remain metabolically healthy,” explained Barbara Nikolajczyk, associate professor of microbiology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).
Although many cases of type 2 diabetes are linked to obesity, it is not the only possible cause. Genetics, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and the natural aging process can also cause type 2 diabetes. In fact, a recent study found that the development of age-related type 2 diabetes is so different to the development of obesity-related type 2 diabetes that the two should be considered different conditions, with age-related type 2 diabetes described as “type 4 diabetes.”
The findings are published in the journal Obesity.

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