The predictive relationship between baseline insulin and glucose with subclinical carotid atherosclerosis after 5 years in a multi-ethnic cohort


      • Ethnicity sometimes modifies the relationship between insulin and glucose with subclinical atherosclerosis.
      • Ethnic minorities showed lower progression of atherosclerosis with increasing insulin or glucose compared with Europeans.
      • South Asians showed evidence of insulin resistance after five years of follow up.


      Background and aims

      We aimed at exploring the relationship between baseline insulin and glucose and the progression of carotid atherosclerosis in a multi-ethnic cohort.


      Males and females (n = 797) of European, Chinese, South Asian and Aboriginal origin were assessed as part of the Multicultural Community Health Assessment Trial (MCHAT) study for socio-demographics, smoking status, fasting insulin and glucose at baseline. IMT, plaque area and total area were assessed after 5 years.


      A total of 545 participants returned after 5 years for a follow-up assessment. Average age of the study participants was 47.5 (SD 8.9) years. At baseline, the median and interquartile range for insulin was 62.0 (49.5) pmol/L, and glucose was 5.2 (0.60) mmol/L.
      Baseline glucose and insulin predicted the 5-year progression of atherosclerosis in our models, after adjusting for covariates. We found significant insulin-ethnicity interactions in the IMT model (p = 0.044) with the slope of the relationship showing that for every percentage change in insulin the Europeans experienced 7.3% more increase in IMT at 5 years than the Aboriginals. In the plaque area and total area models, there were significant glucose-ethnicity interactions (p = 0.009 and p=0.016 respectively), with the slope showing a 101% and 121% increase for plaque area and total area, respectively, in Europeans, at 5 years per percent change in glucose at baseline. Logistic regression found a significant glucose-ethnicity interaction with the presence of plaques (OR = 0.31, p = 0.03) such that compared to the Europeans, the South Asians had a lower odds of developing plaque presence. Similarly, we found glucose-ethnicity interactions in the logistic regression when comparing the Chinese to the Europeans (OR = 0.2, p=0.005), with the Chinese being less likely to develop plaque presence.


      Ethnicity modifies the predictive relationship between insulin and glucose with sub-clinical indicators of carotid atherosclerosis but not consistently so.


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