Mahalanobis distance, a novel statistical proxy of homeostas
The potential role of individual plasma biomarkers in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes (T2D) has been broadly studied, but the impact of biomarkers interaction remains underexplored. Recently, the Mahalanobis distance (MD) of plasma biomarkers has been proposed as a proxy of physiological dysregulation. This study aimed to investigate whether the MD calculated from circulating biomarkers is prospectively associated with development of T2D.

Researchers calculated the MD of the Principal Components (PCs) integrating the information of 32 circulating biomarkers (comprising inflammation, glycemic, lipid, microbiome and one-carbon metabolism) measured in 6247 participants of the PREVEND study without T2D at baseline. Cox proportional-hazards regression analyses were performed to study the association of MD with T2D development.

After a median follow-up of 7.3 years, 312 subjects developed T2D. The overall MD (mean (SD)) was higher in subjects who developed T2D compared to those who did not: 35.65 (26.67) and 30.75 (27.57), respectively. The highest hazard ratio (HR) was obtained using the MD calculated from the first 31 PCs (per 1 log-unit increment). Such associations remained after the adjustment for age, sex, plasma glucose, parental history of T2D, lipids, blood pressure medication, and BMI.

These results are in line with the premise that MD represents an estimate of homeostasis loss. This study suggests that MD is able to provide information about physiological dysregulation also in the pathogenesis of T2D.