Circulating microRNAs associated with prediabetes and geographic location in Latinos

Elena Flowers, Juan Daniel Ramírez-Mares, Marion Velazquez-Villafaña, Ruben Rangel-Salazar, Anatol Sucher, Alka M. Kanaya, Bradley E. Aouizerat, Maria Luisa Lazo de la Vega Monroy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Globally, type 2 diabetes is highly prevalent in individuals of Latino ancestry. The reasons underlying this high prevalence are not well understood, but both genetic and lifestyle factors are contributors. Circulating microRNAs are readily detectable in blood and are promising biomarkers to characterize biological responses (i.e., changes in gene expression) to lifestyle factors. Prior studies identified relationships between circulating microRNAs and risk for type 2 diabetes, but Latinos have largely been under-represented in these study samples. Aims/hypothesis: The aim of this study was to assess for differences in expression levels of three candidate microRNAs (miR-126, miR-146, miR-15) between individuals who had prediabetes compared to normal glycemic status and between individuals who self-identified with Latino ancestry in the United States (US) and native Mexicans living in or near Leon, Mexico. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study that included 45 Mexicans and 21 Latino participants from the US. Prediabetes was defined as fasting glucose 100–125 mg/dL or 2-h post-glucose challenge between 140 and 199 mg/dL. Expression levels of microRNAs from plasma were measured by qPCR. Linear and logistic regression models were used to assess relationships between individual microRNAs and glycemic status or geographic site. Results: None of the three microRNAs was associated with risk for type 2 diabetes. MiR-146a and miR-15 were significantly lower in the study sample from Mexico compared to the US. There was a significant interaction between miR-146a and BMI associated with fasting blood glucose. Conclusions/interpretation: This study did not replicate in Latinos prior observations from other racial groups of associations between miR-126, miR-146a, and miR-15 and risk for type 2 diabetes. Future studies should consider other microRNAs related to different biological pathways as possible biomarkers for type 2 diabetes in Latinos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-578
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Biomarker
  • Diabetes
  • Fasting blood glucose
  • microRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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