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Acta Diabetol. 2003 Dec;40(4):163-72.

A 25-year follow-up study of glucose tolerance in first-degree relatives of type 2 diabetic patients: association of impaired or diabetic glucose tolerance with other components of the metabolic syndrome.

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  • 1Diabetes Center Bad Lauterberg, Kirchberg 21, D-37431 Bad Lauterberg in Harz, Germany.


A follow-up study of first-degree relatives of type 2 diabetic patients presented the opportunity to study the association of components of the metabolic syndrome with oral glucose tolerance in these subjects. In 1992, 25 years after the first analysis of the cohort, we performed 75-g oral glucose tolerance tests and measured anthropometric data (body mass index, waist-hip ratio), insulin and C-peptide concentrations, and parameters of lipoprotein metabolism (free fatty acids, triglycerides, cholesterol, HDL cholesterol). Of 135 participants, 71 had normal glucose tolerance (GT), 22 had impaired GT, and 42 had diabetic GT (WHO 1985 criteria). Impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes were significantly (Kruskal-Wallis test) associated with advanced age (p=0.001), higher body mass index (p=0.005) and waist-hip ratio (p=0.027), systolic hypertension (p=0.031), elevated basal insulin concentrations (p<0.001), higher free fatty acids (p<0.001) and triglycerides (p=0.017), and lower HDL cholesterol (p=0.003); no associations were found with total and LDL cholesterol levels (Friedewald's formula, p=0.25). Abnormalities (obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, low HDL cholesterol, hypertension, pathological oral glucose tolerance) were associated with significant deterioriations in all other components of the metabolic syndrome, if their number exceeded three. Disturbances of oral glucose tolerance are present in a high percentage of first-degree relatives after 25 years of follow-up (51% of those tested). Impaired or diabetic glucose tolerance in such a cohort was associated with overweight, hypertension and disturbances of lipoprotein metabolism characteristic of the metabolic syndrome. Hypercholesterolemia (LDL-cholesterol) is not a component of the metabolic syndrome in a German population with a high hereditary burden regarding type 2 diabetes. A metabolic syndrome should certainly be diagnosed if three components are present, although even in the presence of only two components, an elevated risk is evident.

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