Six Novel Biomarkers Improve the Identification of Individuals at High Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a major chronic disease with detrimental health consequences. It is estimated to affect 463 million adults worldwide in 2019, the majority of them suffering from type 2 diabetes. Since the onset of type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented by lifestyle or pharmacologic interventions, it is important to identify high risk individuals as early as possible to target costly interventions to those who will benefit most.

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In Germany, the German Diabetes Risk Score is currently used to identify persons who have an increased risk to develop type 2 diabetes within the next 5 years. This questionnaire-based method is easy to implement. However, the addition of standard clinical or novel laboratory parameters offers the potential to improve risk prediction.

Researchers from the Helmholtz Zentrum München, together with partners from the German Diabetes Center (DDZ), the German Heart Centre, Technical University of Munich and other research institutions, have recently shown that the evaluation of 6 novel biomarkers can significantly improve the prediction of type 2 diabetes in addition to standard models based on lifestyle and clinical parameters only.

Out of 47 biomarker candidates, the researchers selected 6 novel biomarkers which most strongly improved the performance of the prediction models for type 2 diabetes. These 6 biomarkers include interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA), insulin-like growth factor binding protein-2 (IGFBP-2), soluble E-selectin (sE-selectin), decorin, adiponectin, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). The present results are based on two longitudinal studies conducted within the Cooperative Health Research of the Region of Augsburg (KORA). A case-cohort study including 689 incident cases of type 2 diabetes and 1850 noncases was used for the initial discovery part and a second independent cohort study, which included 262 incident cases and 2549 noncases was used for validation.


Further Information


The study was supported by a research grant from the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, by the German Research Foundation, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), and the Helmholtz Alliance "Aging and Metabolic Programming, AMPro."


Biomarker measurements were partly funded by Tethys Bioscience Inc and Singulex. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors' disclosures.


Thorand B, Zierer A, Büyüközkan M, Krumsiek J, Bauer A, Schederecker F, Sudduth-Klinger J, Meisinger C, Grallert H, Rathmann W, Roden M, Peters A, Koenig W, Herder C, Huth C. A panel of six biomarkers significantly improves the prediction of type 2 diabetes in the MONICA/KORA study population. Published online December 31, 2020. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. doi:10.1210/clinem/dgaa953

Prof. Dr. Barbara Thorand
Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt (GmbH)
Institute of Epidemiology
Ingolstädter Landstr. 1
D-85764 Neuherberg
phone: +49 89 3187 4480


As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus, allergies and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,300 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 19 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members.

The Institute of Epidemiology (EPI) assesses genetic, environmental and lifestyle risk factors which jointly determine the occurrence of major chronic diseases. The focus is on the development and progression of metabolic, respiratory and allergic diseases, as well as heart diseases and mental health. The goal is to understand the molecular underpinning of disease better and to translate this knowledge into personalized approaches of prevention as well as polices to improve health. Research builds on the unique resources of the KORA cohort, the KORA myocardial infarction registry, and the KORA aerosol measurement station. Aging-related phenotypes have been added to the KORA research portfolio within the frame of the Research Consortium KORA-Age. Moreover, the institute makes use of the birth cohorts GINI and LISA. It plays a leading role in the planning and setting up of the German National Cohort and builds the NAKO biorepository.