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Glucotypes reveal new patterns of glucose dysregulation

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Heather Hall , Dalia Perelman , Alessandra Breschi , Patricia Limcaoco, Ryan Kellogg, Tracey McLaughlin, Michael Snyder
PLOS Biology
2018

Abstract

Diabetes is an increasing problem worldwide; almost 30 million people, nearly 10% of the population, in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes. Another 84 million are prediabetic, and without intervention, up to 70% of these individuals may progress to type 2 diabetes. Current methods for quantifying blood glucose dysregulation in diabetes and prediabetes are limited by reliance on single-time-point measurements or on average measures of overall glycemia and neglect glucose dynamics. We have used continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) to evaluate the frequency with which individuals demonstrate elevations in postprandial glucose, the types of patterns, and how patterns vary between individuals given an identical nutrient challenge. Measurement of insulin resistance and secretion highlights the fact that the physiology underlying dysglycemia is highly variable between individuals. We developed an analytical framework that can group individuals according to specific patterns of glycemic responses called “glucotypes” that reveal heterogeneity, or subphenotypes, within traditional diagnostic categories of glucose regulation. Importantly, we found that even individuals considered normoglycemic by standard measures exhibit high glucose variability using CGM, with glucose levels reaching prediabetic and diabetic ranges 15% and 2% of the time, respectively. We thus show that glucose dysregulation, as characterized by CGM, is more prevalent and heterogeneous than previously thought and can affect individuals considered normoglycemic by standard measures, and specific patterns of glycemic responses reflect variable underlying physiology. The interindividual variability in glycemic responses to standardized meals also highlights the personal nature of glucose regulation. Through extensive phenotyping, we developed a model for identifying potential mechanisms of personal glucose dysregulation and built a webtool for visualizing a user-uploaded CGM profile and classifying individualized glucose patterns into glucotypes.