N-glycan Profile and Kidney Disease in Type 1 Diabetes

on behalf of the SDRN Type 1 Bioresource Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over half of human proteins have one or more complex sugar chains, known as glycans, attached to their surface. Glycans range from simple structures with two, to more complex structures with up to four branches. The arrangement of these branched glycan structures on the protein surface is known to determine key aspects of their function in the body. Glycan profiles describe the arrangement of glycan structures on circulating proteins in the blood. Glycan profiles have been shown to vary with age and in many medical conditions, such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. Indeed, the primary biological process that produces the glycan glucose building blocks is altered in diabetes as a result of impared glycaemic control. Glycans are also known to be involved in pathological processes related to kidney damage in type 1 diabetes. We therefore theorised that that people with type 1 diabetes and poorer glycaemic control would have more complexed branched glycans at the protein surface, and as such be of predictive value for diabetic kidney damage. We examined glycan profiles in a large sample of 818 Scottish people with type 1 diabetes and investigated the relationship with glycaemic control and kidney damage. We observed that, as theorised, poorer glycaemic control and kidney damage were related with more complex branched glycan structures on circulating proteins. This study has shown the potential of predictive value of glycans for diabetic kidney damage. However, more work is required to establish their role in causing the kidney damage from poor glycaemic control in type 1 diabetics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDiabetes Care
Early online date16 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • association analysis
  • total N-glycans
  • IgG N-glycans
  • human serum
  • type 1 diabetes
  • diabetic kidney disease

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