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Sex Hormone Binding Globulin could predict Diabetes

People with low blood levels of a protein that regulates sex hormones were found to be more at risk for developing diabetes. In a recent study, researchers found that both men and women with low level of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) were ten times more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes compared to those with high levels of SHBG. Headed by Dr. Simin Liu of the University of California Los Angeles, the team neutralized other predictors such as weight, smoking status, exercise, and high blood pressure and found that SHBG has a genetic component that carries two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). These SNPs are effective predictors of the lowered and heightened risk of developing diabetes.

“These strong and consistent findings obtained with the use of multiple analytical approaches and subgroup analyses in two independent cohorts, support the notion that sex hormone-binding globulin may play an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes at both the genomic and phenotypic levels and that sex hormone-binding globulin could be an important target in stratification for the risk of type 2 diabetes and early intervention,” the investigators said.

Researchers explained that SHBG binds to sex hormones circulating in the blood to regulate and mediate other aspects of metabolism and cellular function. Other clinical trials cited in the study also found that low levels of SHBG were also linked with impaired control of blood glucose and that even when sex hormones are bound to SHBG, they are associated with risk of diabetes.

Dr. Liu came up with this conclusion through 718 postmenopausal women participating in the Women’s Health Study where half of the women had recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and the other half served as controls. The researchers also utilized the data gathered in an independent cohort of men (170 newly diagnosed with diabetes and 170 controls) from the Physicians’ Health Study II, a long-running study on cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In conclusion the researchers said that their prospective studies of postmenopausal women and men showed that higher levels of circulating sex hormone-binding globulin were strongly associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. “Two germ-line variants in the SHBG gene were also identified as being directly associated with both blood plasma levels of sex hormone-binding globulin and the risk of type 2 diabetes,” they explained.

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