Habitual red meat consumption is related to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes in observational studies. An interdisciplinary team of DZD scientists at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke, the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the University of Tübingen identified blood metabolites that possibly relate red meat consumption to the occurrence of type 2 diabetes. Analyses were conducted in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam cohort (n = 27,548), applying a nested case-cohort design (n = 2681, including 688 incident diabetes cases). Six biomarkers (ferritin, glycine, diacyl phosphatidylcholines 36:4 and 38:4, lysophosphatidylcholine 17:0, and hydroxy-sphingomyelin 14:1) in serum samples from baseline were associated with red meat consumption and diabetes risk.
Heme iron intake from red meat is related to higher ferritin levels. The underlying mechanisms that link elevated iron status to the risk of diabetes likely include oxidative stress and modulation of intracellular signaling cascades. Glycine is part of the body’s defense systems against oxidative stress and might ameliorate inflammatory processes. An inverse association of glycine with diabetes risk was previously described. Circulating lipid metabolites partly reflect the nutrient uptake and metabolic processes in the liver. In the literature, several lines of evidence relate a disturbed hepatic lipid metabolism to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.
This is the first study evaluating a large set of metabolites as potential mediators of the association between red meat intake and diabetes risk. The results cannot prove
causality of the observed associations but they hint towards plausible biological pathways linking red meat intake to type 2 diabetes risk. Not least the results provide valuable information for the design and the biomarker assessment of interventional studies.
Wittenbecher C, Mühlenbruch K, Kröger J, Jacobs S, Kuxhaus O, Floegel A, Fritsche A, Pischon T, Prehn C, Adamski J, Joost HG, Boeing H, Schulze MB. Amino acids, lipid metabolites, and ferritin as potential mediators linking red meat consumption to type 2 diabetes. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.099150. Am J Clin Nutr. June 1, 2015
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