Metabolite profiles of diabetes incidence and intervention response in the diabetes prevention program

Geoffrey A. Walford, Yong Ma, Clary Clish, Jose C. Florez, Thomas J. Wang, Robert E. Gerszten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Identifying novel biomarkers of type 2 diabetes risk may improve prediction and prevention among individuals at high risk of the disease and elucidate new biological pathways relevant to diabetes development. We performed plasma metabolite profiling in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a completed trial that randomized highrisk individuals to lifestyle, metformin, or placebo interventions. Previously reported markers, branched-chain and aromatic amino acids and glutamine/glutamate, were associated with incident diabetes (P < 0.05 for all), but these associations were attenuated upon adjustment for clinical and biochemical measures. By contrast, baseline levels of betaine, also known as glycine betaine (hazard ratio 0.84 per SD log metabolite level, P = 0.02), and three other metabolites were associated with incident diabetes even after adjustment. Moreover, betaine was increased by the lifestyle intervention, which was the most effective approach to preventing diabetes, and increases in betaine at 2 years were also associated with lower diabetes incidence (P = 0.01). Our findings indicate betaine is a marker of diabetes risk among high-risk individuals both at baseline and during preventive interventions and they complement animal models demonstrating a direct role for betaine in modulating metabolic health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1424-1433
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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