Association between hemoglobin glycation index with insulin resistance and carotid atherosclerosis in non-diabetic individuals

PLoS One. 2017 Apr 20;12(4):e0175547. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175547. eCollection 2017.


Hemoglobin glycation index (HGI), defined as the difference between the observed HbA1c value and the value of HbA1c predicted from plasma glucose levels, represents a measure of the degree of non-enzymatic glycation of hemoglobin and it has been found to be positively associated with micro- and macro-vascular complications in subjects with type 2 diabetes. To investigate the pathophysiological abnormalities responsible for the increased cardiovascular risk of patients with higher HGI, we evaluated the association of HGI with cardio-metabolic characteristics in nondiabetic offspring of type 2 diabetic individuals. Insulin sensitivity, measured by a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, cardio-metabolic risk factors including lipid profile, uric acid and inflammatory factors, and ultrasound measurement of carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) were assessed in 387 nondiabetic individuals. Participants were stratified in tertiles according to HGI (high, moderate and low). As compared with subjects with low HGI, those with high HGI displayed an unfavorable cardio-metabolic risk profile having significantly higher values of BMI, waist circumference, triglycerides, uric acid, fasting insulin, inflammatory markers, such as high sensitivity C reactive protein, erythrocytes sedimentation rate, complement C3, fibrinogen, and white blood cell count, and carotid IMT, and lower HDL and insulin-stimulated glucose disposal. In a linear regression analysis model including several atherosclerotic risk factors such as gender, age, BMI, inflammatory factors, lipid profile, insulin-stimulated glucose disposal, fasting insulin, uric acid, and blood pressure, HGI was the major predictor of IMT (β = 0.35; P = 0.001). In a logistic regression analysis adjusted for confounders, individuals with high HGI showed a 2.7-fold increased risk of vascular atherosclerosis (OR 2.72, 95%CI 1.01-7.37) as compared with subjects with low HGI. The present findings support the notion that HGI may be a useful tool to identify a subset of nondiabetic individuals conceivably harboring a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.