Blood lipid fingerprinting opens up new possibilities for reducing diabetes risk & sustained glycaemic improvement

Lausanne, Switzerland 11th August 2016.
Obesity the major risk factor for type 2 diabetes – is a serious health issue across the globe. We know that weight loss generally leads to an improvement of obesity-related co-morbidities and complications such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and hypertension, but not all patients benefit equally from weight loss, and improvements are often short-term. What we don’t properly understand is why this is the case. Finding the answer would open up new possibilities for reducing diabetes risk and sustained glycaemic improvement in those overweight people who respond less positively to weight loss.

So the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) teamed up with researchers from the School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism (NUTRIM) of Maastricht University Medical Centre and the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports (NEXS) of the University of Copenhagen to study dyslipidaemia (abnormalities in the circulating lipids)  during an international dietary weight loss intervention (the Diet, Obesity and Genes study, or Diogenes), with the aim of better understanding how those changes relate to long-term glycaemic improvements.

The results of this work were published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition(1) . The researchers have investigated the circulating lipid levels, also called the plasma lipidome, of 383 obese people, within a randomised controlled dietary intervention in eight European countries at baseline, after an eight-week low-caloric diet, and after six months of weight maintenance. All subjects included in the study were non-diabetic but considered pre-diabetic, or at risk of developing type 2 diabetesat enrolment, a major justification for such clinical intervention.

Standard clinical practice tends to assess total lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides in subjects undergoing weight control intervention. The current study instead focused on investigating how different lipid species change in individuals following a low-calorie diet.

Although subjects were comparable at the start of the study and all achieved noticeable weight loss post-intervention, the researchers were able to distinguish two distinct groups:

• those for whom low-caloric diet intervention would reduce their risk of diabetes and produce sustainable weight and glycaemic improvements, benefiting their metabolic health (known as “responders”); and
• subjects who, despite weight loss, display no glycaemic improvements and so remain at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related complications (“non-responders”).

In combination with other clinical data, this blood lipid fingerprint could allow practitioners to predict which subjects will remain insulin-resistant (ie pre-diabetic) – something which is not currently possible using classical clinical measurements only. This is the first time researchers have been able to link changes in lipid composition during weight management interventions in non-diabetic, obese patients with long-term weight and glycaemic outcomes, offering new options that outperform clinical models for prediction of insulin-resistant subjects.

Ed Baetge, Head of NIHS, adds: “These findings may provide simpler ways to identify people who are still at risk of developing type 2 diabetes following weight loss interventions. As such, it represents the first step toward the development of new and adapted nutritional solutions to help non-responders improve their metabolic health”.

About NIHS

NIHS is a biomedical research institute, part of Nestlé’s global R&D network, dedicated to fundamental research aimed at understanding health and disease and developing science-based, targeted nutritional solutions for the maintenance of health. To achieve its aim, NIHS employs state-of-the-art technologies and biological models to characterise health and disease with a holistic and integrated approach. The ultimate goal of the Institute is to develop knowledge that can empower people to better maintain their health through nutritional approaches, especially in relation to their molecular profile and lifestyle status.

About Diogenes:

Diogenes is a pan-European Programme of the EU Sixth Framework for Research and Technological Development (2005-2009). Diogenes is targeting the obesity problem from a dietary perspective, seeking new insights and new routes to treatment and prevention. The name Diogenes is an acronym that stands for "Diet, Obesity and Genes”. Diogenes was supported by 14.5 million Euros of EU funding, with a total project budget of 20.1 million Euros. The five-year programme involved a consortium of 29 partners across Europe. It was made up of world-class centres in diet and health studies, epidemiology, dietary genomics and food technology. It also included 3 major food industrials and 5 small and medium-sized enterprises. Based on the new knowledge generated, the project has demonstrated prototypes of innovative products or advice regimes which help susceptible individuals to avoid weight gain and re-gain.

See also: Study could open up new ways to reduce diabetes risk

(1)Valsesia, A., Saris, W.H.M., Astrup, A., Hager, J. and Masoodi, M. (2016). Distinct lipid profiles predict improved glycemic control in obese, non-diabetic patients following low-caloric diet intervention: the DiOGenes randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 2016 Aug 10, 104:1–10.

See NIHS related work :
NIHS helps unlock the potential of proteomics in clinical research
Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences takes lipidomics approach to understand the role of lipids in healthy metabolism and immune function

For enquiries, please contact:
Laura Camurri, Communications, NIHS
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