The association between plasma proneurotensin and glucose regulation is modified by country of birth

Sci Rep. 2019 Sep 20;9(1):13640. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-50040-3.


The prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) has increased dramatically in Middle Eastern populations that represent the largest non-European immigrant group in Sweden today. As proneurotensin predicts T2D, the aim of this study was to investigate differences in proneurotensin levels across populations of Middle Eastern and Caucasian origin and to study its associations with indices of glucose regulation. Participants in the age 30 to 75 years, living in Malmö, Sweden, and born in Iraq or Sweden, were recruited from the census register. Anthropometrics and fasting samples were collected and oral glucose tolerance tests conducted assessing insulin secretion (DIo) as well as insulin sensitivity (ISI). A total of 2155 individuals participated in the study, 1398 were Iraqi-born and 757 were Swedish-born participants. Higher fasting proneurotensin levels were observed in Iraqi- compared to Swedish-born participants (137.5 vs. 119.8 pmol/L; p < 0.001) data adjusted for age, sex and body mass index. In Iraqi participants only, plasma proneurotensin was associated with impaired glucose regulation assessed as ISI, DIo and HbA1c, and significant interactions between country of birth and proneurotensin were observed (Pinteraction ISI = 0.048; Pinteraction DIo = 0.014; PinteractionHbA1c = 0.029). We report higher levels of proneurotensin in the general Middle Eastern population. The finding that Middle Eastern origin modifies the relationship of proneurotensin with indices of glucose regulation suggests that proneurotensin may be a stronger determinant of T2D in Middle Eastern as compared to Caucasian populations. These findings may explain part of the excess T2D risk in the Middle Eastern population but needs to be explored further.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / ethnology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Iraq / ethnology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotensin / blood*
  • Protein Precursors / blood*
  • Sweden / ethnology
  • Transients and Migrants


  • Protein Precursors
  • proneurotensin
  • Neurotensin
  • Glucose