Mol Metab.: auth.: group Thorens

 2019 Sep;27S:S147-S154. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2019.06.008.

Use of preclinical models to identify markers of type 2 diabetes susceptibility and novel regulators of insulin secretion – A step towards precision medicine.



Progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes (T2D) and from T2D to insulin requirement proceeds at very heterogenous rates among patient populations, and the risk of developing different types of secondary complications is also different between patients. The diagnosis of pre-diabetes and T2D solely based on blood glucose measurements cannot capture this heterogeneity, thereby preventing proposition of therapeutic strategies adapted to individual needs and pathogenetic mechanisms. There is, thus, a need to identify novel means to stratify patient populations based on a molecular knowledge of the diverse underlying causes of the disease. Such knowledge would form the basis for a precision medicine approach to preventing and treating T2D according to the need of identified patient subgroups as well as allowing better follow up of pharmacological treatment.


Here, we review a systems biology approach that aims at identifying novel biomarkers for T2D susceptibility and identifying novel beta-cell and insulin target tissue genes that link the selected plasma biomarkers with insulin secretion and insulin action. This work was performed as part of two Innovative Medicine Initiative projects. The focus of the review will be on the use of preclinical models to find biomarker candidates for T2D prediction and novel regulators of beta-cell function. We will demonstrate that the study of mice with different genetic architecture and widely different adaptation to metabolic stress can be a powerful approach to identify biomarkers of T2D susceptibility in humans or for the identification of so far unrecognized genes controlling beta-cell function.


The examples developed in this review will highlight the power of the systems biology approach, in particular as it allowed the discovery of dihydroceramide as a T2D biomarker candidate in mice and humans and the identification and characterization of novel regulators of beta-cell function.


Beta-cells; Biomarkers; Ceramides; Elongase; Insulin secretion; Pancreatic islets; Sphingolipids; Type 2 diabetes

PMID: 31500826