The link between vascular deterioration and branched chain amino acids in a population with high glycated haemoglobin: the SABPA study

19 March 2015

Globally the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes, are escalating. Metabolomic studies indicated that circulating branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are associated with insulin resistance, coronary artery disease and increased risk for cardiovascular events. We aimed to extend the current understanding of the cardiovascular risk associated with BCAAs. We explored whether BCAAs are related to markers of cardiovascular disease in a bi-ethnic population and whether this relationship was influenced by chronic hyperglycaemia. We included 200 African and 209 Caucasian participants, and determined their ambulatory blood pressure and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT). We analysed blood samples for glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and BCAAs. Participants were stratified into two groups according to their HbA1c value using the median cut-off value of 5.6 %. Ambulatory BP, cIMT and BCAAs were significantly higher (all p < 0.001) in the high HbA1c group. Single regression analyses indicated significant positive associations of ambulatory blood pressure and cIMT with BCAAs (all p < 0.05) in both the groups. These associations between ambulatory systolic blood pressure (SBP) (r = 0.16, p = 0.035) and cIMT (r = 0.22, p = 0.004) with BCAAs remained in the high HbA1c group after adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity and body mass index (BMI) and were confirmed in multiple regression analyses (ambulatory SBP: R 2 = 0.17, β = 0.21, p = 0.005 and cIMT: R 2 = 0.30, β = 0.19, p = 0.003). Our results demonstrate that BCAAs are independently related to ambulatory BP and cIMT in individuals with high HbA1c levels and suggest that potential cardiovascular deterioration accompany the rise in BCAAs in conditions of hyperglycaemia.