, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 50-53,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Increased circulating levels of betatrophin in individuals with long-standing type 1 diabetes

Abstract

Aims/hypothesis

The hormone betatrophin was recently described as a potent stimulator of beta cell proliferation in mice. Insulin resistance, but not insulin deficiency, caused upregulation of betatrophin expression. If these findings were found to be fully applicable in humans, this would open up the possibility of future betatrophin treatment in type 1 diabetes. The present study measured for the first time betatrophin concentrations in humans and tested the hypothesis that there would be no difference in circulating betatrophin concentrations between patients with type 1 diabetes and healthy individuals.

Methods

Betatrophin concentrations in plasma of 33 patients with type 1 diabetes and 24 age-matched healthy controls were measured by ELISA. The study participants were characterised for blood lipids, BMI, plasma glucose and HbA1c, and, for the diabetic patients, their insulin requirements and any residual C-peptide concentrations.

Results

Plasma betatrophin concentrations were normally ∼300 pg/ml, but were approximately doubled in patients with type 1 diabetes. In the patients, there were no correlations between betatrophin and age, blood lipids, BMI, glucose control or insulin requirement, whereas in controls betatrophin levels increased with age. BMI, blood pressure and triacylglycerol, LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol levels were similar in patients and healthy controls.

Conclusions/interpretation

Circulating concentrations of betatrophin are increased in type 1 diabetes in contrast with what was recently described in an insulin-deficient mouse model. However, increased betatrophin concentrations do not protect against loss of C-peptide. Betatrophin treatment in type 1 diabetes would therefore probably not be successful without the use of supraphysiological doses or a combination with immune regulatory treatment.