Objectives: Elevated serum sialic acid concentration is a strong predictor of cardiovascular mortality in non-diabetic subjects. Because patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and albuminuria have a highly increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, we hypothesized that IDDM patients with albuminuria would have an increased concentration of serum sialic acid.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: Outpatient clinic at Steno Diabetes Centre, Gentofte, Denmark.
Subjects: Twenty-six non-diabetic controls and 74 IDDM patients with normoalbuminuria (urinary albumin excretion [UAE] < 30 mg 24 h-1; n = 37), incipient nephropathy (UAE 30-300 mg 24 h-1; n = 20) and clinical nephropathy (UAE > 300 mg 24 h-1; n = 17), matched for sex, age and body mass index (BMI).
Main outcome measures: Serum sialic acid concentration, concurrent fasting blood glucose, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), serum creatinine, plasma fibrinogen and erythrocyte sedimentation rate.
Results: Normoalbuminuric patients had a higher serum sialic acid concentration (mmol L-1) than non-diabetic controls (1.83 +/- 0.24 vs. 1.67 +/- 0.26; P < 0.02). Serum sialic acid concentration was further increased in patients with incipient nephropathy (2.02 +/- 0.37; P < 0.03) and in patients with clinical nephropathy (2.13 +/- 0.33; P < 0.002) compared with normoalbuminuric IDDM patients. Serum sialic acid correlated strongly with plasma fibrinogen (r = 0.78; P < 0.0001) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (r = 0.62; P < 0.0001). In a multiple regression analysis including UAE, retinopathy status, fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, mean blood pressure, serum creatinine, age, BMI, duration and smoking. UAE and fasting blood glucose were the independent variables which correlated significantly with serum sialic acid concentration (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.05, respectively).
Conclusion: Serum sialic acid is elevated in IDDM especially in albuminuric patients. Whether elevated serum sialic acid is predictive for early diabetic nephropathy and cardiovascular disease in IDDM has to be shown in the future.