O-GlcNAc modification is associated with insulin sensitivity in the whole blood of healthy young adult males

Jason P. Myslicki, Jane Shearer, Dustin S. Hittel, Curtis C. Hughey, Darrell D. Belke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Findings. The relationships between a panel of anthropometric, metabolic measures and whole blood global protein O-GlcNAc was examined. O-GlcNAc and O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) levels were quantified by immunoblotting and compared to anthropometric measures: body mass index (BMI), percentage body fat, aerobic fitness, blood glucose, triglycerides, HDL, insulin, and HbA1c. HOMA-IR cohorts showed no differences in BMI, blood glucose or HbA1c, but differed in percent body fat, plasma triglycerides, and circulating insulin. Greater O-GlcNAc expression was observed in the whole blood of HH compared to LH. Moreover, a positive association between HOMA-IR and O-GlcNAc emerged, while no relationship was found between HbA1c and HOMA-IR. This effect was not related to OGT expression.

Conclusions: Results indicate that O-GlcNAc has a greater sensitivity to metabolic status compared to HbA1c in this population. O-GlcNAc has the potential to serve as a screening tool for predicting future metabolic disturbances in a young healthy adult population free of any clinically relevant pathologies.

Background: Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is the predominant diagnostic tool for diabetes diagnosis and progression. However, it has proven to be insensitive at pre-diabetic threshold values. O-linked-β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) modification has emerged as a sensitive biomarker. The purpose of this study was to explore the sensitivity of O-GlcNAc expression as a potential marker of early metabolic dysfunction in a young adult population. Healthy, young males (18-35 y) from the Assessing Inherited Metabolic syndrome Markers in the Young study (AIMMY), were divided into low (LH,0.60) or high (HH,1.61) homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) cohorts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number96
JournalDiabetology and Metabolic Syndrome
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 9 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (JS, DSH). JS holds salary support awards from Alberta Innovates Health Solutions. The authors thank Virginia L. Johnsen for her outstanding technical support.


  • Insulin resistance
  • Metabolism
  • Obesity
  • Young adult


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