The pro-inflammatory biomarker soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) is associated with incident type 2 diabetes among overweight but not obese individuals with impaired glucose regulation: effect modification by smoking and body weight status

Diabetologia. 2013 Jul;56(7):1542-6. doi: 10.1007/s00125-013-2914-0. Epub 2013 Apr 24.


Aims/hypothesis: Recent evidence links the soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR), a stable biomarker of systemic immune activation, to several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes. suPAR is also associated with adiposity and smoking. We hypothesised that this biomarker would be linked to incident type 2 diabetes in individuals with impaired glucose regulation and that this association would be modified by smoking and body weight status.

Methods: The study included 1,933 participants with impaired glucose regulation, who were drawn from the Danish arm of the Anglo-Danish-Dutch Study of Intensive Treatment in People with Screen-Detected Diabetes in Primary Care (ADDITION) and for whom data on suPAR, BMI and smoking were available. Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate the odds for incident type 2 diabetes per twofold increase in suPAR levels. Interactions between both smoking and body weight status and suPAR were tested.

Results: During a 3-year follow-up (599 incident diabetes cases), there was a 48% overall increase in the odds of developing type 2 diabetes per twofold increase in suPAR (p = 0.006). This association was modified by body weight status in overweight, but not in obese individuals (OR 2.36, 95% CI 1.48, 3.76 in overweight group), and by smoking status (OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.20, 3.51 in non-smokers). After adjustment for other diabetes risk factors, the association between suPAR and type 2 diabetes was attenuated in the whole sample and among non-smokers, but remained robust among overweight participants.

Conclusions/interpretation: suPAR may be a good novel biomarker for systemic sub-clinical inflammation and immune activation linked to incident type 2 diabetes risk in overweight individuals and non-smokers. The observed interactions with adiposity and smoking should be investigated further.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Overweight / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Urokinase Plasminogen Activator / metabolism*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*


  • Biomarkers
  • Receptors, Urokinase Plasminogen Activator