Plasma total bilirubin levels predict amputation events in type 2 diabetes mellitus: the Fenofibrate Intervention and Event Lowering in Diabetes (FIELD) study.

Department of Cardiology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia, .
Diabetologia (Impact Factor: 6.88). 01/2013; 56(4). DOI: 10.1007/s00125-012-2818-4
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Bilirubin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Previous studies demonstrated that higher bilirubin levels were associated with reduced prevalence of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). However, the relationship between bilirubin and lower-limb amputation, a consequence of PAD, is currently unknown. We hypothesised that, in patients with type 2 diabetes, bilirubin concentrations may inversely associate with lower-limb amputation. METHODS: The relationship between baseline plasma total bilirubin levels and amputation events was analysed in 9,795 type 2 diabetic patients from the Fenofibrate Intervention and Event Lowering in Diabetes (FIELD) study. The analysis plan was pre-specified. Lower-limb amputation was adjudicated blinded to treatment allocation. Relevant clinical and biochemical data were available for analyses. Amputation was a pre-specified tertiary endpoint. RESULTS: Bilirubin concentrations were significantly inversely associated with lower-limb amputation, with a greater than threefold risk gradient across levels. Individuals with lower bilirubin concentrations had a higher risk for first amputation (HR 1.38 per 5 μmol/l decrease in bilirubin concentration, 95% CI 1.07, 1.79, p = 0.013). The same association persisted after adjustment for baseline variables, including age, height, smoking status, γ-glutamyltransferase level, HbA(1c), trial treatment allocation (placebo vs fenofibrate), as well as previous PAD, non-PAD cardiovascular disease, amputation or diabetic skin ulcer, neuropathy, nephropathy and diabetic retinopathy (HR 1.38 per 5 μmol/l decrease in bilirubin concentration, 95% CI 1.05, 1.81, p = 0.019). CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: Our results identify a significant inverse relationship between bilirubin levels and total lower-limb amputation, driven by major amputation. Our data raise the hypothesis that bilirubin may protect against amputation in type 2 diabetes.

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    ABSTRACT: A study by Chan et al in this issue of Diabetologia (DOI: 10.1007/s00125-012-2818-4 ) reports that low plasma bilirubin levels are associated with an increased risk of amputation in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus participating in the Fenofibrate Intervention and Event Lowering in Diabetes (FIELD) study. These findings raise the interesting and clinically relevant hypothesis that bilirubin protects against risk of amputation in patients with type 2 diabetes. This commentary considers some of the limitations associated with research aiming to define any link between circulating bilirubin levels and vascular disease. Numerous confounding factors (several of which may be present in patients with type 2 diabetes) may explain why the literature regarding this potentially protective role of bilirubin remains controversial.
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