Higher Plasma Sclerostin and Lower Wnt Signaling Gene Expression in White Adipose Tissue of Prediabetic South Asian Men Compared with White Caucasian Men

Laura G M Janssen*, Andrea D van Dam, Mark J W Hanssen, Sander Kooijman, Kimberly J Nahon, Hanneke Reinders, Ingrid M Jazet, W. D. van Marken Lichtenbelt, Patrick C N Rensen, Natasha M Appelman-Dijkstra, Mariëtte R Boon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: South Asians generally have an unfavourable metabolic phenotype compared with white Caucasians, including central obesity and insulin resistance. The Wnt protein family interacts with insulin signaling, and impaired Wnt signaling is associated with adiposity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. We aimed to investigate Wnt signaling in relation to insulin signaling in South Asians compared with white Caucasians. Methods: Ten Dutch South Asian men with prediabetes and overweight or obesity and 10 matched Dutch white Caucasians were included. Blood samples were assayed for the Wnt inhibitor sclerostin. Subcutaneous white adipose tissue (WAT) and skeletal muscle biopsies were assayed for Wnt and insulin signaling gene expression with quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02291458). Results: Plasma sclerostin was markedly higher in South Asians compared with white Caucasians (+65%, P<0.01). Additionally, expression of multiple Wnt signaling genes and key insulin signaling genes were lower in WAT in South Asians compared with white Caucasians. Moreover, in WAT in both ethnicities, Wnt signaling gene expression strongly positively correlated with insulin signaling gene expression. In skeletal muscle, WNT10Bexpression in South Asians was lower, but expression of other Wnt signaling and insulin signaling genes was comparable between ethnicities. Wnt and insulin signaling gene expression also positively correlated in skeletal muscle, albeit less pronounced. Conclusion: South Asian men with overweight or obesity and prediabetes have higher plasma sclerostin and lower Wnt signaling gene expression in WAT compared with white Caucasians. We interpret that reduced Wnt signaling could contribute to impaired insulin signaling in South Asians.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54
Pages (from-to)326-335
Number of pages13
JournalDiabetes and Metabolism Journal
Issue number2
Early online date31 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Adiposity
  • Insulin resistance
  • SOST protein
  • human
  • Wnt signaling pathway
  • RISK

Cite this