Biomarkers for Early Diagnostic of Mild Cognitive Impairment in Type-2 Diabetes Patients: A Multicentre, Retrospective, Nested Case-Control Study

EBioMedicine. 2016 Feb 6;5:105-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.02.014. eCollection 2016 Mar.


Background: Both type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) are common age-associated disorders and T2DM patients show an increased risk to suffer from AD, however, there is currently no marker to identify who in T2DM populations will develop AD. Since glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) activity, ApoE genotypes and olfactory function are involved in both T2DM and AD pathogenesis, we investigate whether alterations of these factors can identify cognitive impairment in T2DM patients.

Methods: The cognitive ability was evaluated using Minimum Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR), and the mild cognitive impairment (MCI) was diagnosed by Petersen's criteria. GSK-3β activity in platelet, ApoE genotypes in leucocytes and the olfactory function were detected by Western/dot blotting, the amplification refractory mutation system (ARMS) PCR and the Connecticut Chemosensory Clinical Research Center (CCCRC) test, respectively. The odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) of the biomarkers for MCI diagnosis were calculated by logistic regression. The diagnostic capability of the biomarkers was evaluated by receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analyses.

Findings: We recruited 694 T2DM patients from Jan. 2012 to May. 2015 in 5 hospitals (Wuhan), and 646 of them met the inclusion criteria and were included in this study. 345 patients in 2 hospitals were assigned to the training set, and 301 patients in another 3 hospitals assigned to the validation set. Patients in each set were randomly divided into two groups: T2DM without MCI (termed T2DM-nMCI) or with MCI (termed T2DM-MCI). There were no significant differences for sex, T2DM years, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, coronary disease, complications, insulin treatment, HbA1c, ApoE ε2, ApoE ε3, tGSK3β and pS9GSK3β between the two groups. Compared with the T2DM-nMCI group, T2DM-MCI group showed lower MMSE score with older age, ApoE ε4 allele, higher olfactory score and higher rGSK-3β (ratio of total GSK-3β to Ser9-phosphorylated GSK-3β) in the training set and the validation set. The OR values of age, ApoE ε4 gene, olfactory score and rGSK-3β were 1.09, 2.09, 1.51, 10.08 in the training set, and 1.06, 2.67, 1.47, 7.19 in the validation set, respectively. The diagnostic accuracy of age, ApoE ε4 gene, olfactory score and rGSK-3β were 0.76, 0.72, 0.66, 0.79 in the training set, and 0.70, 0.68, 0.73, 0.79 in the validation set, respectively. These four combined biomarkers had the area under the curve (AUC) of 82% and 86%, diagnostic accuracy of 83% and 81% in the training set and the validation set, respectively.

Interpretation: Aging, activation of peripheral circulating GSK-3β, expression of ApoE ε4 and increase of olfactory score are diagnostic for the mild cognitive impairment in T2DM patients, and combination of these biomarkers can improve the diagnostic accuracy.

Keywords: AD, Alzheimer's disease; ARMS, amplification refractory mutation system; AUC, the area under the curve; Alzheimer's disease; ApoE gene; ApoE, apolipoprotein E; CCCRC, Connecticut Chemosensory Clinical Research Center; CDR, clinical dementia rating; CI, confidence intervals; GSK-3β, glycogen synthase kinase-3β; Glycogen synthase kinase-3β; HbA1c, hemoglobin A1c; MCI, mild cognitive impairment; MMSE, minimum mental state examination; Mild cognitive impairment; OR, odds ratio; Olfactory score; ROC, receiver operating characteristics; T2DM, type 2 diabetes mellitus; Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alleles
  • Alzheimer Disease / blood*
  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Apolipoprotein E4 / blood*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / blood*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Apolipoprotein E4
  • Biomarkers
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta