Aims/hypothesis: An accurate molecular diagnosis of diabetes subtype confers clinical benefits; however, many individuals with monogenic diabetes remain undiagnosed. Biomarkers could help to prioritise patients for genetic investigation. We recently demonstrated that high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) levels are lower in UK patients with hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 alpha (HNF1A)-MODY than in other diabetes subtypes. In this large multi-centre study we aimed to assess the clinical validity of hsCRP as a diagnostic biomarker, examine the genotype-phenotype relationship and compare different hsCRP assays.
Methods: High-sensitivity CRP levels were analysed in individuals with HNF1A-MODY (n = 457), glucokinase (GCK)-MODY (n = 404), hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF4A)-MODY (n = 54) and type 2 diabetes (n = 582) from seven European centres. Three common assays for hsCRP analysis were evaluated. We excluded 121 participants (8.1%) with hsCRP values >10 mg/l. The discriminative power of hsCRP with respect to diabetes aetiology was assessed by receiver operating characteristic curve-derived C-statistic.
Results: In all centres and irrespective of the assay method, meta-analysis confirmed significantly lower hsCRP levels in those with HNF1A-MODY than in those with other aetiologies (z score -21.8, p < 5 × 10(-105)). HNF1A-MODY cases with missense mutations had lower hsCRP levels than those with truncating mutations (0.03 vs 0.08 mg/l, p < 5 × 10(-5)). High-sensitivity CRP values between assays were strongly correlated (r (2) ≥ 0.91, p ≤ 1 × 10(-5)). Across the seven centres, the C-statistic for distinguishing HNF1A-MODY from young adult-onset type 2 diabetes ranged from 0.79 to 0.97, indicating high discriminative accuracy.
Conclusions/interpretation: In the largest study to date, we have established that hsCRP is a clinically valid biomarker for HNF1A-MODY in European populations. Given the modest costs and wide availability, hsCRP could translate rapidly into clinical practice, considerably improving diagnosis rates in monogenic diabetes.