Clinical Science| Volume 62, ISSUE 1, P100-108, January 2013

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Estimated plasma stearoyl co-A desaturase-1 activity and risk of incident diabetes: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study



      Evidence from pre-clinical studies suggests inhibition of stearoyl co-A desaturase-1 (SCD-1) activity improves insulin sensitivity. Translation of these findings to humans remains less defined. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the association between different measures of SCD-1 activity and incident diabetes in a large, prospective human study.


      In 2738 white participants (aged 45–64 yrs, 47% men) who were free of diabetes at baseline, SCD-1 activity was estimated at baseline by plasma fatty acid ratios in cholesterol esters (SCD16c=16:1n-7/16:0, SCD18c =18:1n-9/18:0) and in phospholipids (SCD16p=16:1n-7/16:0, SCD18p=18:1n-9/18:0). Incident diabetes was ascertained during 3 follow-up visits. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to determine the association between estimated SCD-1 activity and incident diabetes.


      During follow-up (mean 8.0±SE 2.1 years), 207 (7.6%) participants developed diabetes. After adjusting for age and sex, higher SCD16c, higher SCD16p, and lower SCD18p were significantly associated with incident diabetes. After additional adjustment for education, parental history of diabetes, smoking, dietary intake (carbohydrate, fiber, saturated/monounsaturated/polyunsaturated fat), alcohol use, physical activity, body mass index (BMI), waist-hip ratio, blood pressure, and lipid composition – only SCD16c remained significantly associated with incident diabetes (Hazard Ratio=1.1 linearly across decreasing quintiles, 95% CI 1.01-1.30; p =0.03) which remained nominally associated after adjusting for insulin resistance (p=0.05).


      In a large community-based prospective cohort study, the estimate of SCD-1 activity by SCD16c had the strongest association with incident diabetes. Refinement of SCD-1 measurement and replication of its association with incident diabetes in an independent cohort is recommended.


      ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities), 16:0 (palmitic acid), 16:1n-7 (palmitoleic acid), 18:0 (stearic acid), 18:1n-9 (oleic acid), SCD-1 (stearoyl co-A desaturase-1), SCD16c (16:1n-7/16:0 ratio in plasma cholesterol esters), SCD16p (16:1n-7/16:0 ratio in plasma phospholipids), SCD18c (18:1n-9/18:0 ratio in plasma cholesterol esters), SCD18p (18:1n-9/18:0 ratio in plasma phospholipids)


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