Altered Asparagine and Glutamate Homeostasis Precede Coronary Artery Disease and Type 2 Diabetes

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Aug 1;103(8):3060-3069. doi: 10.1210/jc.2018-00546.


Context: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is accompanied by an increased risk for coronary artery disease (CAD), but the overlapping metabolic disturbances preceding both diseases are insufficiently described.

Objective: We hypothesized that alterations in metabolism occur years before clinical manifestation of T2DM and CAD and that these alterations are reflected in the plasma metabolome. We thus aimed to identify plasma metabolites that predict future T2DM and CAD.

Design: Through use of targeted liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, 35 plasma metabolites (amino acid metabolites and acylcarnitines) were quantified in 1049 individuals without CAD and diabetes, drawn from a population sample of 5386 in the Malmö Preventive Project (mean age, 69.5 years; 31% women). The sample included 204 individuals who developed T2DM, 384 who developed CAD, and 496 who remained T2DM and CAD free during a mean follow-up of 6.1 years.

Results: In total, 16 metabolites were significantly associated with risk for developing T2DM according to logistic regression models. Glutamate (OR, 1.96; P = 5.4e-12) was the most strongly associated metabolite, followed by increased levels of branched-chain amino acids. Incident CAD was predicted by three metabolites: glutamate (OR, 1.28; P = 6.6e-4), histidine (OR, 0.76; P = 5.1e-4), and asparagine (OR, 0.80; P = 2.2e-3). Glutamate (OR, 1.48; P = 1.6e-8) and asparagine (OR, 0.75; P = 1.8e-5) were both associated with a composite endpoint of developing T2DM or CAD.

Conclusion: Several plasma metabolites were associated with incidence of T2DM and CAD; elevated glutamate and reduced asparagine levels were associated with both diseases. We thus discovered associations that might help shed additional light on why T2DM and CAD commonly co-occur.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asparagine / blood
  • Asparagine / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / diagnosis*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / metabolism
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glutamic Acid / blood
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prodromal Symptoms*


  • Glutamic Acid
  • Asparagine