The number of cases of diabetes type 2 has doubled during the last 30 years in parallel with the epidemic of obesity. This type of diabetes is often called “late onset” or “non-insulin dependent.” During the course of the disease, cells become less susceptible to insulin (a hormone that draws glucose into the cells) and overall blood glucose levels rise. About 7% of the newly discovered type 2 diabetics had been diabetic for 4-7 years before the discovery. These years may severely compromise their health as high glucose levels cause vascular lesions that may cause vision loss, nerve damage, kidney damage, and other problems. The western world epidemic of obesity may result in many young adults developing type 2 diabetes. Left undiagnosed and untreated this disease will result in a lower life expectancy, therefore the development of new improved ways to test for the disease is of utmost importance.
One of the problems with current diagnosis of diabetes is sometimes-painful needle sticks to draw blood for tests. Some individuals avoid getting tested in fear of the discomfort. This may also discourage patients from properly monitoring their blood sugar levels, scientists say. Saliva tests are completely non-invasive and provide results as quickly as the blood tests.
The biomarkers found are proteins responsible of various functions. A majority of them belong to pathways regulating metabolism and immune response. The research team also demonstrated a trend of relative increases in marker abundance with progression from the pre-diabetic to the diabetic state. This proteomic analysis of the human saliva in type 2 diabetes provides the first global view of potential mechanisms altered in diabetic saliva and their utility in detection and monitoring of diabetes. Further characterization of these markers in additional groups of subjects may provide the basis for new, non-invasive tests for diabetes screening, detection, and monitoring.