Impact of Glucose Level on Micro- and Macrovascular Disease in the General Population: A Mendelian Randomization Study

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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether high glucose levels in the normoglycemic range and higher have a causal genetic effect on risk of retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy, chronic kidney disease (CKD), peripheral arterial disease (PAD), and myocardial infarction (MI; positive control) in the general population.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: This study applied observational and one-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) analyses to individual-level data from 117,193 Danish individuals, and validation by two-sample MR analyses on summary-level data from 133,010 individuals from the Meta-Analyses of Glucose and Insulin-Related Traits Consortium (MAGIC), 117,165 from the CKDGen Consortium, and 452,264 from the UK Biobank.

RESULTS: Observationally, glucose levels in the normoglycemic range and higher were associated with high risks of retinopathy, neuropathy, diabetic nephropathy, PAD, and MI (all P for trend <0.001). In genetic causal analyses, the risk ratio for a 1 mmol/L higher glucose level was 2.01 (95% CI 1.18-3.41) for retinopathy, 2.15 (1.38-3.35) for neuropathy, 1.58 (1.04-2.40) for diabetic nephropathy, 0.97 (0.84-1.12) for estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) <60 mL/min/1.73 m2, 1.19 (0.90-1.58) for PAD, and 1.49 (1.02-2.17) for MI. Summary-level data from the MAGIC, the CKDGen Consortium, and the UK Biobank gave a genetic risk ratio of 4.55 (95% CI 2.26-9.15) for retinopathy, 1.48 (0.83-2.66) for peripheral neuropathy, 0.98 (0.94-1.01) for eGFR <60 mL/min/1.73 m2, and 1.23 (0.57-2.67) for PAD per 1 mmol/L higher glucose level.

CONCLUSIONS: Glucose levels in the normoglycemic range and higher were prospectively associated with a high risk of retinopathy, neuropathy, diabetic nephropathy, eGFR <60 mL/min/1.73 m2, PAD, and MI. These associations were confirmed in genetic causal analyses for retinopathy, neuropathy, diabetic nephropathy, and MI, but they could not be confirmed for PAD and seemed to be refuted for eGFR <60 mL/min/1.73 m2.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDiabetes Care
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)894-902
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

ID: 252298057