Background: Type 2 diabetes is associated with considerable comorbidity and severe complications, which reduce quality of life of the patients and require high levels of healthcare. The Diabetes Pearl is a large cohort of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, covering different geographical areas in the Netherlands. The aim of the study is to create a research infrastructure that will allow the study of risk factors, including biomarkers and genetic determinants for severe diabetes complications.
Methods/design: Baseline examinations began November 2009 and will continue through 2012. By the end of 2012, it is expected that 7000 patients with type 2 diabetes will be included in the Diabetes Pearl cohort. To ensure quality of the data collected, standard operation procedures were developed and used in all 8 recruitment centers. From all patients who provide informed consent, the following information is collected: personal information, medication use, physical examination (antropometry, blood pressure, electrocardiography (ECG), retina photographs, ankle-brachial index, peripheral vibration perception), self-report questionnaire (socio-economic status, lifestyle, (family) history of disease, and psychosocial well-being), laboratory measurements (glucose, A1c, lipid profile, kidney function), biobank material (storage of urine and blood samples and isolated DNA). All gathered clinical data and biobank information is uploaded to a database for storage on a national level. Biobanks are maintained locally at all recruitment centers.
Discussion: The Diabetes Pearl is large-scale cohort of type 2 diabetes patients in the Netherlands aiming to study risk factors, including biomarkers and genetic markers, for disease deterioration and the development of severe diabetes complications. As a result of the well-designed research design and the national coverage, the Diabetes Pearl data can be of great value to national and international researchers with an interest in diabetes related research.