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Diabetes. 2006 Jan;55(1):216-24.

Natural antibiotics and insulin sensitivity: the role of bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein.

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  • 1Unit of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Nutrition, Hospital de Girona Dr. Josep Trueta, Ctra. França s/n, 17007 Girona, Spain.


The innate immune system can immediately respond to microorganism intrusion by helping to prevent further invasion. Bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein (BPI) is a major constituent of neutrophils that possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is increasingly recognized as a component of the metabolic syndrome. We hypothesized that the production of BPI could be linked to insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. We studied circulating BPI across categories of glucose tolerance. We also studied whether these cross-sectional associations were of functional importance. For this reason, we investigated circulating bioactive lipopolysaccharide and the effects of changing insulin action-after treatment with an insulin sensitizer (metformin)-on circulating BPI in subjects with glucose intolerance. Finally, we tested whether a 3'-untranslated region (UTR) BPI polymorphism led to differences in BPI and insulin action among nondiabetic subjects. Age- and BMI-adjusted circulating BPI was significantly lower among patients with type 2 diabetes. Circulating BPI correlated negatively with fasting and postload glucose and insulin concentrations. In subjects with glucose intolerance, BPI was also linked to BMI, waist-to-hip ratio, and age- and BMI-adjusted insulin sensitivity. Bioactive lipopolysaccharide was negatively correlated with circulating BPI (r = -0.57, P < 0.0001) and positively with plasma lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (r = 0.54, P = 0.002). In parallel to improved insulin sensitivity, plasma BPI significantly increased in the metformin group but not in the placebo group. A 3'-UTR BPI polymorphism was simultaneously associated with plasma BPI concentration, waist-to-hip ratio, fasting and postload insulin concentration, fasting plasma triglycerides, and insulin sensitivity. These findings suggest that this component of the innate immune system is associated with metabolic pathways.

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