Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease have common antecedents. Since markers of inflammation predict coronary heart disease and are raised in patients with type 2 diabetes, we investigated whether they predict whether people will develop type 2 diabetes.
Methods: 12,330 men and women, aged 45-64 years, were followed up for a mean of 7 years. We analysed the association between different markers of acute inflammation and subsequent diagnosis of diabetes. In a subgroup of 610 individuals selected originally for an unrelated atherosclerosis case-control study, we also investigated diabetes associations with total sialic acid and orosomucoid, haptoglobin, and alpha1-antitrypsin.
Findings: 1335 individuals had a new diagnosis of diabetes. Adjusted odds ratios for developing diabetes for quartile extremes were 1.9 (95% CI 1.6-2.3) for raised white-cell count, 1.3 (1.0-1.5) for low serum albumin, and 1.2 (1.0-1.5) for raised fibrinogen. In the subgroup analysis, individuals with concentrations of orosomucoid and sialic acid of more than the median had odds ratios of 7.9 (2.6-23.7) and 3.7 (1.4-9.8), respectively. Adjustment for body-mass index and waist-to-hip ratio lessened the associations; those for white-cell count (1.5 [1.3-1.8]), orosomucoid (7.1 [2.1-23.7]), and sialic acid (2.8 [1.0-8.1]) remained significant.
Interpretation: Markers of inflammation are associated with the development of diabetes in middle-aged adults. Although autoimmunity may partly explain these associations, they probably reflect the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.