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Mingyuan Tian, Zerong Liang, Rui Liu, Ke Li, Xinrong Tan, Yong Luo, Mengliu Yang, Harvest F Gu, Hua Liu, Ling Li and Gangyi Yang


Zinc-α2-glycoprotein (ZAG) has recently been characterized as a potent metabolic regulator. However, the effects of anti-diabetic agents on circulating ZAG levels in humans remain largely unknown. To explore the possible mechanisms by which the dipeptidyl peptidase-IV (DPP-IV) inhibitor improves insulin resistance, we investigated the effect of sitagliptin, a DPP-IV inhibitor, on circulating cytokine levels in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes (nT2DM) patients.

Design and methods

A subset of 141 subjects with nT2DM were assigned to receive placebo (n=47) or sitagliptin (n=94) for 3 months. Before and after treatment, subjects received a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test, euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp (EHC), and measurement of ZAG and adiponectin (ADI) concentrations.


Circulating ZAG levels were lower in nT2DM than in control individuals (P<0.01). After 3 months of sitagliptin treatment, HbA1c, fasting plasma glucose, postprandial glucose, 2-h insulin after glucose overload, triglycerides, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) were decreased significantly compared with pre-treatment (P<0.05 or P<0.01), whereas the glucose infusion rate during the stable period of the clamp (M values) during EHC were significantly increased (P<0.01). In addition, circulating ZAG and ADI concentrations were significantly increased along with improved glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity compared with pre-treatment (both P<0.01) and the change of ZAG (ΔZAG) was positively associated with ΔADI, ΔHOMA-IR, ΔBMI, Δfasting insulin and negatively associated with Δ tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). Furthermore, sitagliptin treatment resulted in significantly lowered plasma TNF-α level (P<0.05).


A low level of circulating ZAG is associated with insulin resistance and sitagliptin treatment significantly increases circulating ZAG levels. These observations have implications in relation to the mode of action of the DPP-IV inhibitor as an insulin sensitizing agent.