MicroRNAs Associated With Incident Diabetes in the Diabetes Prevention Program

Elena Flowers, Bradley E. Aouizerat, Alka M. Kanaya, Jose C. Florez, Xingyue Gong, Li Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: MicroRNAs (miRs) are short (ie, 18-26 nucleotide) regulatory elements of messenger RNA translation to amino acids. Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess whether miRs are predictive of incident type 2 diabetes (T2D) in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) trial. Methods: This was a secondary analysis (n = 1000) of a subset of the DPP cohort that leveraged banked biospecimens to measure miRs. We used random survival forest and Lasso methods to identify the optimal miR predictors and the Cox proportional hazards to model time to T2D overall and within intervention arms. Results: We identified 5 miRs (miR-144, miR-186, miR-203a, miR-205, miR-206) that constituted the optimal predictors of incident T2D after adjustment for covariates (hazard ratio [HR] 2.81, 95% CI 2.05, 3.87; P < .001). Predictive risk scores following cross-validation showed the HR for the highest quartile risk group compared with the lowest quartile risk group was 5.91 (95% CI 2.02, 17.3; P < .001). There was significant interaction between the intensive lifestyle (HR 3.60, 95% CI 2.50, 5.18; P < .001) and the metformin (HR 2.72; 95% CI 1.47, 5.00; P = .001) groups compared with placebo. Of the 5 miRs identified, 1 targets a gene with prior known associations with risk for T2D. Conclusion: We identified 5 miRs that are optimal predictors of incident T2D in the DPP cohort. Future directions include validation of this finding in an independent sample in order to determine whether this risk score may have potential clinical utility for risk stratification of individuals with prediabetes, and functional analysis of the potential genes and pathways targeted by the miRs that were included in the risk score.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e306-e312
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023


  • biomarker
  • diabetes
  • fasting blood glucose
  • microRNA
  • prediabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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