The Association Between Endocan Levels and Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

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Proinflammatory conditions induced by circulating factors in diabetes play a pivotal role in endothelial dysfunction and related vascular complications. Endothelial cell-specific molecule-1 or endocan is a dermatan sulfate proteoglycan secreted primarily by the vascular endothelium. Although endocan has been shown to be a potential biomarker in coronary heart disease, its role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis (AS) in diabetes remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the correlation between serum endocan levels and subclinical AS in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

Materials and Methods:

Patients (n = 69) with T2DM were included. All the patients were stratified based on the absence (n = 42) or presence (n = 27) of subclinical AS. Healthy subjects (n = 28) served as controls. Serum levels of endocan, fasting blood glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin A1, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) were measured.


Endocan levels were significantly elevated in both the T2DM (0.89 ± 0.28 ng/mL) and T2DM with subclinical AS (1.20 ± 0.33 ng/mL) groups relative to the control group (0.68 ± 0.24 ng/mL) (P < 0.05 for all). Endocan levels were also positively correlated with glycosylated hemoglobin A1, fasting blood glucose and cIMT (r = 0.292, P = 0.004; r = 0.224, P = 0.027 and r = 0.496, P < 0.001, respectively). In addition, endocan levels were independently associated with cIMT (β = 0.220, t = 5.816, P = 0.000) and were a significant risk factor for T2DM with subclinical AS (odds ratio = 1.98, 95% CI: 1.43-2.73, P < 0.001).


These findings suggest that serum endocan levels may be a useful biomarker for the early diagnosis of subclinical AS in patients with T2DM.

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