Apolipoprotein-CIII O-Glycosylation Is Associated with Micro- and Macrovascular Complications of Type 2 Diabetes

Annemieke Naber*, Daniel Demus, Roderick C. Slieker, Simone Nicolardi, Joline W.J. Beulens, Petra J.M. Elders, Aloysius G. Lieverse, Eric J.G. Sijbrands, Leen M. ‘t Hart, Manfred Wuhrer*, Mandy van Hoek*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Apolipoprotein-CIII (apo-CIII) inhibits the clearance of triglycerides from circulation and is associated with an increased risk of diabetes complications. It exists in four main proteoforms: O-glycosylated variants containing either zero, one, or two sialic acids and a non-glycosylated variant. O-glycosylation may affect the metabolic functions of apo-CIII. We investigated the associations of apo-CIII glycosylation in blood plasma, measured by mass spectrometry of the intact protein, and genetic variants with micro- and macrovascular complications (retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, cardiovascular disease) of type 2 diabetes in a DiaGene study (n = 1571) and the Hoorn DCS cohort (n = 5409). Mono-sialylated apolipoprotein-CIII (apo-CIII1) was associated with a reduced risk of retinopathy (β = −7.215, 95% CI −11.137 to −3.294) whereas disialylated apolipoprotein-CIII (apo-CIII2) was associated with an increased risk (β = 5.309, 95% CI 2.279 to 8.339). A variant of the GALNT2-gene (rs4846913), previously linked to lower apo-CIII0a, was associated with a decreased prevalence of retinopathy (OR = 0.739, 95% CI 0.575 to 0.951). Higher apo-CIII1 levels were associated with neuropathy (β = 7.706, 95% CI 2.317 to 13.095) and lower apo-CIII0a with macrovascular complications (β = −9.195, 95% CI −15.847 to −2.543). In conclusion, apo-CIII glycosylation was associated with the prevalence of micro- and macrovascular complications of diabetes. Moreover, a variant in the GALNT2-gene was associated with apo-CIII glycosylation and retinopathy, suggesting a causal effect. The findings facilitate a molecular understanding of the pathophysiology of diabetes complications and warrant consideration of apo-CIII glycosylation as a potential target in the prevention of diabetes complications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5365
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2024

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