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Hormone Level Associated With Increased Risk of Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Breast Cancer in Women

Study implicates proneurotensin in disease development (Oct. 10)

Plasma levels of proneurotensin are associated with the development of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular and total mortality, and breast cancer in women during long-term follow-up, according to a new study published in the October 10 issue of JAMA.

Neurotensin, an amino acid peptide primarily expressed in the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract, regulates both satiety and breast cancer growth in the experimental setting, but little is known about its role in the development of breast cancer or cardiometabolic disease in humans, according to background information in the article. Proneurotensin is a precursor of the hormone neurotensin.

Researchers in Sweden conducted a study to determine whether a fasting plasma concentration of proneurotensin is associated with a future risk of diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and death. Proneurotensin was measured in plasma from 4,632 fasting participants in the population-based Malmo Diet and Cancer Study baseline examination (1991–1994). Various models were used to evaluate the relationship between baseline proneurotensin and first events and death during long-term follow-up until January 2009, with median follow-up periods ranging from 13.2 to 15.7 years, depending on the disease.

Overall, proneurotensin was related to the risk of new diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular mortality, with a significant interaction between proneurotensin and gender on the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers noted that the elevation of proneurotensin several years before the onset of disease indicates that proneurotensin may be a marker of underlying disease susceptibility rather than an expression of subclinical disease. “As an observational study, our results do not prove any causation between proneurotensin and cardiometabolic disease and breast cancer,” the authors wrote.

They added that the relationships between proneurotensin and all endpoints were significant in women but not in men; however, because there was significant interaction between gender and proneurotensin only for the outcome of incident cardiovascular disease, it remains to be shown whether the association between proneurotensin and an adverse outcome is specific for women.

For more information, visit the JAMA Web site.

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