Aims/hypothesis: Identification of novel biomarkers for type 2 diabetes and their genetic determinants could lead to improved understanding of causal pathways and improve risk prediction.
Methods: In this study, we used data from non-targeted metabolomics performed using liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry in three Swedish cohorts (Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men [ULSAM], n = 1138; Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors [PIVUS], n = 970; TwinGene, n = 1630). Metabolites associated with impaired fasting glucose (IFG) and/or prevalent type 2 diabetes were assessed for associations with incident type 2 diabetes in the three cohorts followed by replication attempts in the Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg (KORA) S4 cohort (n = 855). Assessment of the association of metabolite-regulating genetic variants with type 2 diabetes was done using data from a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies.
Results: Out of 5961 investigated metabolic features, 1120 were associated with prevalent type 2 diabetes and IFG and 70 were annotated to metabolites and replicated in the three cohorts. Fifteen metabolites were associated with incident type 2 diabetes in the four cohorts combined (358 events) following adjustment for age, sex, BMI, waist circumference and fasting glucose. Novel findings included associations of higher values of the bile acid deoxycholic acid and monoacylglyceride 18:2 and lower concentrations of cortisol with type 2 diabetes risk. However, adding metabolites to an existing risk score improved model fit only marginally. A genetic variant within the CYP7A1 locus, encoding the rate-limiting enzyme in bile acid synthesis, was found to be associated with lower concentrations of deoxycholic acid, higher concentrations of LDL-cholesterol and lower type 2 diabetes risk. Variants in or near SGPP1, GCKR and FADS1/2 were associated with diabetes-associated phospholipids and type 2 diabetes.
Conclusions/interpretation: We found evidence that the metabolism of bile acids and phospholipids shares some common genetic origin with type 2 diabetes.
Access to research materials: Metabolomics data have been deposited in the Metabolights database, with accession numbers MTBLS93 (TwinGene), MTBLS124 (ULSAM) and MTBLS90 (PIVUS).
Keywords: Genetic; Metabolomics; Prediction; Type 2 diabetes.