Associations of Innate and Adaptive Immune Cell Subsets With Incident Type 2 Diabetes Risk: The MESA Study

Nels C. Olson, Margaret F. Doyle, Colleen M. Sitlani, Ian H. De Boer, Stephen S. Rich, Sally A. Huber, Alan L. Landay, Russell P. Tracy, Bruce M. Psaty, Joseph A. Delaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: Cell-mediated immunity is implicated in glucose homeostasis and insulin resistance. Whether the levels of innate and adaptive immune cells in peripheral blood are risk factors for incident type 2 diabetes (T2D) remains unknown. We hypothesized that the proportions of naive, memory, CD28-, Th17, and T regulatory CD4+ cells would be associated with incident T2D. In secondary analyses, we evaluated the relationships of 28 additional immune cell phenotypes with T2D. Design: Immune cell phenotypes (n = 33) were measured by flow cytometry using cryopreserved cells collected from 1113 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) at the baseline examination (2000-2002). Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate associations of immune cell phenotypes with incident T2D over a median follow-up of 9.1 years, adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, educational status, and body mass index. Results: Incident T2D was observed for 120 participants. None of the cell phenotypes included in the primary hypotheses were significantly associated with T2D (all P > 0.05). Among the secondary immune cells studied, a higher proportion of CD19+CD27+ B cells was associated with a reduced risk of T2D (hazard ratio: 0.72 (95% confidence interval: 0.56, 0.93), per 1-standard deviation (16%) increase). This association was no longer significant after correction for the multiple cell phenotypes tested (P > 0.0015). Conclusions: Our results suggest that the frequencies of several subsets of monocytes, innate lymphocytes, and CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in circulating blood are not related to the future onset of T2D. Higher levels of CD19+CD27+ B cells may be associated with decreased T2D risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberdgaa036
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 8 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • biomarkers
  • inflammation
  • risk factors
  • T cells
  • type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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