Ethnicity and skin autofluorescence-based risk-engines for cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus

PLoS One. 2017 Sep 20;12(9):e0185175. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185175. eCollection 2017.


Skin auto fluorescence (SAF) is used as a proxy for the accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and has been proposed to stratify patients into cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes mellitus (DM) risk groups. This study evaluates the effects of seven different ethnicities (Arab, Central-East African, Eastern Mediterranean, European, North African, South Asian and Southeast Asian) and gender on SAF as well as validating SAF assessment as a risk estimation tool for CVD and DM in an Arabian cohort. SAF data from self-reported healthy 2,780 individuals, collated from three independent studies, has been linear modelled using age and gender as a covariate. A cross-study harmonized effect size (Cohens'd) is provided for each ethnicity. Furthermore, new data has been collected from a clinically well-defined patient group of 235 individuals, to evaluate SAF as a clinical tool for DM and CVD-risk estimation in an Arab cohort. In an Arab population, SAF-based CVD and/or DM risk-estimation can be improved by referencing to ethnicity and gender-specific SAF values. Highest SAF values were observed for the North African population, followed by East Mediterranean, Arab, South Asian and European populations. The South Asian population had a slightly steeper slope in SAF values with age compared to other ethnic groups. All ethnic groups except Europeans showed a significant gender effect. When compared with a European group, effect size was highest for Eastern Mediterranean group and lowest for South Asian group. The Central-East African and Southeast Asian ethnicity matched closest to the Arab and Eastern Mediterranean ethnicities, respectively. Ethnic and gender-specific data improves performance in SAF-based CVD and DM risk estimation. The provided harmonized effect size allows a direct comparison of SAF in different ethnicities. For the first time, gender differences in SAF are described for North African and East Mediterranean populations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arabs
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin / chemistry*
  • Whites
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This project was funded by the Deanship of Scientific Research (DSR), King Abdulaziz University, under grant no. (2-141-35-HiCi). T Kimhofer was supported by Stratified Medicine Graduate Training Programme in Systems Medicine and Spectroscopic Profiling (STRATiGRAD). Dennis Mook-Kanamori is supported by Dutch Science Organization (ZonMW-VENI Grant 916.14.023).