Plasma Methylglyoxal Levels Are Associated With Amputations and Mortality in Severe Limb Ischemia Patients With and Without Diabetes

Nordin M.J. Hanssen, Martin Teraa, Jean L.J.M. Scheijen, Marjo Van de Waarenburg, Hendrik Gremmels, Coen D.A. Stehouwer, Marianne C. Verhaar and Casper G. Schalkwijk

Published: 1 January 2021


Objective: Diabetes is a risk factor for severe limb ischemia (SLI), a condition associated with high mortality, morbidity, and limb loss. The reactive glucose-derived dicarbonyl methylglyoxal (MGO) is a major precursor for advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and a potential driver of cardiovascular disease. We investigated whether plasma MGO levels are associated with poor outcomes in SLI.

Research design and methods: We measured plasma levels of MGO, free AGEs, and d-lactate, the detoxification end product of MGO, with ultraperformance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry at baseline in 160 patients (64.8 ± 13.3 years, 67.5% male, 37.5% with diabetes) with no-option SLI and recorded major adverse outcomes (n = 86, comprising n = 53 deaths and n = 49 amputations [first event counted]) over the 5-year follow-up. Data were analyzed with linear or Cox regression, after Ln-transformation of the independent variables, adjusted for sex, age, trial arm, diabetes, estimated glomerular filtration rate, systolic blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and BMI. Associations are reported per 1 SD plasma marker.

Results: Higher plasma MGO levels were associated with more adverse outcomes (relative risk 1.44; 95% CI 1.11-1.86) and amputations separately (1.55; 1.13-2.21). We observed a similar but weaker trend for mortality (1.28; 0.93-1.77). The MGO-derived AGE Nε-(carboxyethyl)lysine was also associated with more adverse outcomes (1.46; 1.00-2.15) and amputations (1.71; 1.04-2.79). d-Lactate was not associated with adverse incident outcomes. Higher plasma MGO levels were also associated with more inflammation and white blood cells and fewer progenitor cells.

Conclusions: Plasma MGO levels are associated with adverse outcomes in SLI. Future studies should investigate whether MGO-targeting therapies improve outcomes in SLI.

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